Friday, July 16, 2010

A Curious Thought on The Boss

So, for a few weeks, baseball is the only show in town. For once, this isn’t maddening as many of you are tired of hearing about The Guy in South Beach and all associated parties. However, in these parts, there’s an understandable cloud with the passings of both Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard and principal owner George Steinbrenner.

Unless you’re in the Boroughs (and you still have to find it), you won’t be able to see my first contribution to the New York Beacon since the start of the season. In short:

Save for Marvin Miller, the former leader of the player’s union whose tenure brought riches and opportunity to many baseball players, Steinbrenner was more powerful and influential than nearly every rival owner, agent, player or commissioner in his 35 years as principal owner. The days ahead will be more than “win one for George” rally; the Yanks won seven World Series crowns for him before. They will be a reminder of his famous quote that will be repeated often; “Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next.”
It may have surprised most baseball fans to discover that Steinbrenner had such a connection to football as a former player and coach; that was certainly the case when I did some research on him almost a decade ago. A question of sheer curiosity I asked back then came up the other day; if he had the chance to own a NFL franchise, which one would it have been?

Though the football Giants would come to mind, it would have been unlikely considering the ownership between two families (the Mara and Tisch families) and their own deep roots with the franchise beyond signing checks.

His Cleveland roots didn’t stop him from becoming an unquestioned New York icon, but could he have put forth the same dedication and obsession with winning with the eternally-tortured Browns?

Steinbrenner may have been controversial in his obsession of winning, but he was an undeniably acute businessman. While he took the buy low road that many successful investors have in route to riches and wealth, what if he decided to blaze a trail and start anew? When he purchased the Yankees, the NFL just began to take hold in the South in cities like Atlanta and New Orleans (both in 1966 and 1967, respectively). Could he have taken charge in his adoptive home of Tampa where the Buccaneers were eventually born in 1976?

Again, this is more curiosity than anything else. He was baseball’s biggest personality for years and its most important owner, arguably, since another controversial leader who was based in New York, Walter O’Malley. Yet, football stoked his passions quite a bit in his younger days. If he looked at the gridiron instead of the diamond, it would have been quite a spectacle in itself.

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