One of Little Homer's Saturday rituals growing up in Pittsburgh was to sit in front of the TV at dinnertime with the family and watch "90 minutes of unorganized mayhem, featuring the greatest wrestlers in the world." Bill Cardille was your host, and Hall of Famer Pie Traynor did the live ads for American Heating Company. ("Who can, Pie? Ameri-can!")
There was Bruno and the Crusher (Homer's all-time fave and idol) and heels like Johnny Valentine and local good guys like Jumpin' Johnny DeFazio, Ace Freeman, Hurricane Hunt and Frankie Holtz, the cop from Carnegie. And there was a devoted fan in the front row named Annie Buckalew, who was nicknamed Ringside Rosie.
But the guy responsible for keeping order in the ring and making sure the rules were followed was a guy named Izzy Moidel. Izzy lived in Squirrel Hill and was a former amateur boxer. He certainly had the face and ears of a former boxer. They claimed he once fought Rocky Marciano. Then they said the reason no one had a record of the alleged fight was that it was an exhibition onboard a ship during the war when they were both in the service. Or something like that.
Izzy played the role of the blind ref. He would always be distracted by something, often in tag team matches, when he would chastise one good guy," while the two villains were choking or beating the hell out of the other good guy. He never saw the bad guy hit the good guy with the roll of nickels that were "hidden" in his trunks. And when the fans would point out to Izzy that he missed something, he'd engage in conversation with the fans, turning his back on the action. Then, invariably, the bad guys did something even worse. Poor Izzy. If there was a Lingerie Wrestling League, they would have fired him.
But Izzy was an indispensable part of the Studio Wrestling show, which - at its peak - had more than 200,000 viewers. He was great entertainment, and a key part of the story line. He was sincere as a Boy Scout, but blind as a bat. He was totally out of his league. He was pure entertainment.
Which brings Homer to the NFL.
Homer gets a daily e-mail blast called 1st and 10 from the NFL. Today's had four or five articles about the refs, and how bad some of their calls are, and one asking if it's time to end the lockout. There's even stuff about the "Inaccurate Reception," as Monday night's infamous Hail Mary is being called.
Just as Joe "Toots" Mondt and Vince McMahon's dad used Blind Ref Izzy Moidel as part of their story line, now the NFL publicity machine has taken to spin the lockout into their story line. People are obsessed with the awful calls and the injuries and the teams getting jobbed -- politicians from the President on down are weighing in. The owners have become the heels, the old refs are now the good guys, and the new refs are a hundred Izzy Moidels.
Publicity, someone once said, is never a bad thing, as long as they spell your name right. Well, anybody can spell NFL, and they are spinning this story like dervishes, trying to turn chicken shit into chicken salad.
Homer thinks that might just happen if they remember that NFL stands for "not for long." If the owners - especially those uber-jerks Jerry Jones and Jerry Richardson - understand that it's time to end the lockout, and time to bring back the good guys (the real refs) to the rescue.
If they wait too long, they will squander this golden opportunity. But, for now, the NFL is on everyone's mind and everyone's tongue. It's time for Ed Hochuli and his tag team partners to rush out from the dressing room and restore order and make sure law and order triumph.
As much as I loved Izzy, he and Rosie have long since left us. It's time for the other blind refs to go, too. This golden opportunity to save the integrity of the game will be around "Not For Long."