Friday, November 30, 2007

I guess God needed a motorcycle daredevil

First, there's nothing lamer then when someone famous dies and people say, "I guess God needed a ____________." Give me a break. Did God need a middle management accountant or a heroin addict or does he only kill famous people for his own benefit?

When it comes right down to it Evel Knievel was pretty much a badass. I mean, talk about something that really defined the 70's. The red, white, and blue suits, the cocky attitude, the ridiculous stunts, the fact that people actually watched specials where he would jump 15 buses or a canyon or whatever. I mean, anybody that can make a career out of that is pretty cool. Hippie-ish people used to pack entire stadiums just to see if he could clear 15 cars or, more likely, to see if he would have some horrible crash. And that really is one of the most brutal crashes I've ever seen. When you can actually pinpoint the exact moment when his legs break and start flopping around. He was in a coma for 29 days after this one.

ESPN showed a tribute to him and they mostly showed his wrecks. At first I thought that was kind of lame but then they brought up the point that his greatest accomplishment was that he always came back from them. Well, that and the fact that he carried around a diamond-encrusted cane with a screw-off top so he could always have a few shots of Wild Turkey with him.

The man knew how to play the crowd and was always good for a memorable quote. "My name is Evel Knievel, I'm a professional daredevil." Or, in this story, "I like to gamble and I am good, but I am no maniac. If I had just a dollar left, I would bet 50 cents. But not the whole dollar. That kind of gambling is for sniveling failures. I'd never want to have to snivel to someone because I couldn't pay them."

But, the one that really sums him up is the one I heard from him on the Jim Rome show a few years ago when Rome asked him why he would try to jump the Snake River Canyon when he knew it was only a 50-50 shot he would make it. Evel replied incredulously, "Do you know who the hell I am?"

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