Chicago Sun-Times Jan 8 2006 Rick Telander
When have old men such as Penn State's Joe Paterno (79),
Florida State's Bobby Bowden (76) and new Buffalo Bills
executive Marv Levy (80, at least) been more in the news?
Paterno, whose glasses could be used
to refract sunlight into death rays,
is seven years older than the Orange Bowl,
which his Nittany Lions won Tuesday
against Bowden's Seminoles.
And Levy, dear God, that wise man was just hired
as the Bills' vice president of football operations
by owner Ralph Wilson Jr., who is a mere lad of 87.
[A reader commented...Ageism
is a little recognized discrimination
that is alive and well, unfortunately.
How ironic that many of the same people
making 'Depends' jokes about Mr. Wilson
are probably barely out of diapers themselves.
In the immortal words of George Bernard Shaw,
"Youth is wasted on the young."]
"We need a fresh start," Wilson said.
"My enthusiasm is unbounded," Levy said.
I say Levy is at least 80
because if it were up to him,
he'd be listed at maybe 36.
While writing a story about the
four-time Super Bowl coach
for Sports Illustrated in 1994,
I discovered that he had been using a fake birthdate.
We had been talking on and on.
I had studied his lengthy bio.
I said I was confused.
Had he enlisted as a soldier
in World War II at age 14?
I wanted to know.
Then he explained it all,
the ageism, the prejudice, the way
he thought age was the one thing
that a healthy man should be able
to lie about.
He was old even with his fake age of 66.
It made him the oldest coach in the NFL.
He asked me not to tell people, but I had to.
As a journalist, how could I not?
I simply buried it in my 4,000-word story.
I hope Marv and his rickety old pals
live until the earth melts.
You go, boys!
Age is inevitable. Aging isn't.