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In the comforting haze of your reflections, all the years of your youth seem like summer. When the Jets went to the Super Bowl the country had just left the yearlong trauma of Martin Luther King had been murdered in April and riots followed. Robert Kennedy was murdered in June.
It was also the year of the Tet offensive in Vietnam and the riotous Democratic Convention in Chicago. Nevertheless it was not a bad time to be young. With the exception of drugs, most of the pursuits and most of the attitudes of young people were benign. Rock 'n' roll songs were still mostly about love and high ideals and we hadn't yet gotten to the unmitigated cruelty and ugliness of groups with names like the Dead Kennedys or Niggaz With Attitude.
Enter Willie's World, if you dare
And we hadn't yet reached the era of song lyrics that deliberately degraded women and celebrated the killing of cops. Unless you were in Vietnam, it was highly unlikely that you'd be shot. And a child getting shot in school was too bizarre even to contemplate. AIDS and crack and the widespread unkindnesses of the 's were still well in the future, as were the trashy television talk shows and the proliferation of hate radio.
We still had some innocence to lose. When the Jets beat the Colts , it was more than an astonishing upset.
It was a symbolic triumph of youth over the establishment. Namath was 25, long-haired, cocky and hip. That's what was happening in The young, the underdogs, the oppressed were being liberated. It was fun, and heady as hell.
But as the successes mounted, cautionary voices were forgotten or ignored. The young still needed the counsel of the wise. And the wise were always counseling values. The Jets never reached the Super Bowl again, and the country moved beyond the turbulence of the 60's. Was it better 25 years ago, when Joe and many of the rest of us were young?
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