News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion Columns

February 3, 2013

MARK BENNETT: Falling short of the big prize will produce lessons nonetheless

TERRE HAUTE — This is a day for Roman numerals.

Americans seldom use them. And when we do, humility is not our purpose.

The faces of grand, elegant clocks wear combinations of I, V and X. Like royalty, sons carrying on the full name of the family patriarch are numbered by generation — I, II, III, IV and so on. Blockbuster movie sequels draw box-office muscle from their Romans, as in “Rambo: First Blood Part II,” “Rocky IV” and “Godfather Part II.” Watch the closing credits of a “Dragnet” or “Emergency” rerun and you’ll see a pair of sweaty, grimy hands gripping a chisel and hammer and etching “Mark VII Limited” into a metal plate — the production company owned by 1960s TV tough-guy cop Jack Webb (a.k.a. Joe Friday).

Most indelibly etched into our consciousness, though, are the Roman numerals attached to the Super Bowl. They boldly declare the chronological growth of this massive, immense, “oh so big, so absolutely huge” (to quote Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life”) annual event.

The mere existence of Super Bowl parties exemplifies this day’s exponential expansion on the human calendar. When the Super Bowl debuted in 1967, it was not yet super — its birth name was the “AFL-NFL World Championship Game” — and didn’t earn its Roman numerals officially until Super Bowl III. In ’67, a 23-inch color television was considered “giant.” Most screens were 12, 14 or 17 inches, diagonally. A dozen friends huddled around a black-and-white Sylvania seems prehistoric now. The average TV today measures almost 40 inches. Some span 5 feet. Last fall, LG and Sony unveiled 84-inchers.

Indeed, Super Bowl parties and televisions have grown proportionally. Huge TVs. More guests. Large parties. Vast amounts of food. Funniest commercials. Epic halftime shows. (Marching bands and Up With People entertained at the early Super Bowls.) And, oh yes, the football game.

Tonight, the world chisels “Super Bowl XLVII” into its big, absolutely huge history books. Few creations, aside from the sheer passage of time, reach No. 47 in Roman numerals. Super Sunday has become a national holiday of sorts.

While Christmas marks the birth of Christ, Thanksgiving acknowledges family and blessings, and New Year’s Day toasts, well, a new year, Super Sunday celebrates all things large and supreme in America, including a championship football team.

As compelling and fun as it all is, the only subtle aspect of The Big Game (as those lacking NFL licensing approval call it) is its most valuable subplot …


The Super Bowl owes its longevity and popularity to those who fell short. Those humbled on the way to the Lombardi Trophy presentation. Without Buffalo kicker Scott Norwood and “wide right,” a Gatorade-soaked Bill Parcells would not have ridden into Super Bowl XXV glory on the shoulders of his New York Giants.

Most NFL players end their season with a loss or out of title contention. Thirty-one teams fail to be called “the best.” Average Joes and Janes can relate to that better than to Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw and Tom Brady. Most of us have a Scott Norwood moment, when — with everyone in our world watching or counting on us — we disappoint others, and ourselves … from missed birthdays to wrecked cars and broken homes … when we’re less than “super.”

Some handle the ramifications of setback well. Some don’t.

Amid the partying, hoops and hollers, and spectacular plays, consider those who aren’t jumping up and down on the Superdome turf in New Orleans when the game ends. Their reactions — good or bad — might teach us more than those of the champs.

Consider Cam Cameron. He and I became friends and football teammates as Honey Creek Colts in junior high school, and as Terre Haute South Braves in high school. Cam won and succeeded a lot, and with class, back then. It continued for him in basketball, through three Final Four trips at South and as a reserve on Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers, and as a football assistant coach at Michigan and then in the pro ranks. Now 51 years old, his winning percentage as an offensive coordinator (the guy who calls the plays) ranks among the best ever in the NFL.

He called the offensive shots for the Baltimore Ravens for the past five seasons, including most of the 2012-13 campaign. Thirteen games into this season, with the Ravens sporting a solid 9-4 record, Cam was fired. The drastic step, taken by Cameron’s longtime friend and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, jolted the players and the offense Cameron helped build became resurgent. Baltimore rolled from there, through the playoffs and into today’s Super Bowl, where they’ll play the San Francisco 49ers.

Every NFL player and coach, including the intensely competitive Cameron, wants to reach the Super Bowl. He missed this gridiron Holy Grail by just weeks. His reaction, though, should inspire others as much as tonight’s Most Valuable Player.

Cameron spent time with his wife and kids, refused to hide in embarrassment, and spoke with wisdom. In a New York Times interview, he praised John Harbaugh’s decision to fire him just three games before the playoffs, calling it “a brilliant move.” The Ravens had lost two consecutive games and needed shaken out of their inconsistency. His dismissal delivered that awakening.

“Everyone on the team took a look in the mirror after that,” he told the Times.

In the meantime, Cameron pursued activities with his family the long hours of NFL coaching had prevented, the Times story explained. While in New York, taking in a couple of Broadway plays with his wife, Missy, they stopped in an Irish pub and watched, yes, the Ravens beat the Denver Broncos in the divisional playoffs. “You can’t do anything but root for those guys,” he told the newspaper.

Cameron, no doubt, will rejoin the chase for the Lombardi Trophy next season with another NFL club. For now, he’s turned a significant — yet momentary — setback into a positive. “I believe that me and my family — and I’ve told them this — we’re right where we’re supposed to be,” he said. “And that’s very freeing in a lot of ways.”

Just 51, Cam will still be coaching when the Super Bowl turns 50 in 2016. Some in the NFL have questioned whether the league should drop the Roman numerals in advance of that game — Super Bowl L. They fear its numerical value will be the target of wisecracks about “L” — which people connect with the “loser” symbol made with a thumb and forefinger held on the forehead.

The L should stay. Instead of “50” or “loser,” maybe it should stand for “lessons.”

Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion Columns
  • RONN MOTT: The Czar of Russia

    If you are expecting Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Republic, to react to the crisis in the Ukraine as an ordinary elected official, think again. Even though Putin is the President of the Russian Republic, this is not the job he wants. Putin also doesn’t want to be the chairman of a newly resurrected Communist Party in Russia. No, what he wants is to be the czar of a greater Russia.

    July 24, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Dragonfly

    The other morning I was moving the canister that holds our recycling material out to the curb when I saw a strange sight. What I saw was a dragonfly fighting with a bee.

    July 22, 2014

  • LIZ CIANCONE: Chickens as pets always turned out same way

    I suppose many of us who grew up on farms or in small towns adopted unusual pets. I had a fondness for chickens. My folks always kept a few chickens, not only to fry or roast, but also for the eggs.

    July 21, 2014

  • LovellEdwards.JPG MARK BENNETT: Former Terre Hautean Jim Lovell stood ready as Neil Armstrong’s backup on Apollo 11

    The words “Apollo 11” stir optimism in me.
    I was an elementary school kid growing up in Vigo County when Neil Armstrong put the first footprint on the moon on July 20, 1969. So much seemed possible

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo 4 Stories

  • RONN MOTT: World Cup over, but it was fun

    After many weeks and many games, the World Cup is over. While the world calls it “futbol,” only we in North America play another brand of football. It is very simple to understand why this is the world’s favorite game … all it takes is an empty lot, a round soccer ball, and you can get a futbol game together.

    July 18, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Presidential Ambush

    No wild-west ambush, either real or fiction, has been as successful as the ambush on President Barack Obama.

    July 17, 2014

  • MET071614band.jpg MARK BENNETT: Are you ready for some oom-pah along the banks of the Wabash?

    Any time I hear Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly,” the sound transports me to 1973, when that classic song bubbled from my parents’ car radio on the drive to Sheridan Park for my youth football games.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • RONN MOTT: Collett Park

    Saturday at the Park, Collett Park, another beautiful wedding was held. They looked so nice in the warm weather with the Gazebo acting as church sanctuary, I would almost be tempted myself to do it again, and do it outdoors at the Park. No, no, no, not again, even as pretty as it is in the Park on a nice July Saturday.

    July 15, 2014

  • LIZ CIANCONE: Lots we did not have in those good ol’ days

    In my thankful moments, I’m glad I was not my grandmother’s daughter. I would miss the modern conveniences.

    July 14, 2014

  • wefight.jpg MARK BENNETT: Filmmaker captures late uncle’s walk through illness and into ‘whatever is next’

    Paul Fleschner sensed a remarkable strength as he filmed his beloved uncle one final time.

    July 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • RONN MOTT: Troubled history in that place called Iraq

    People are dying, again, in Iraq. And, again, people other than Iraqis will ultimately make the decision about what happens to this ancient land.

    July 11, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: That Old Man River

    I was surprised to learn the people in Cairo are now taking water taxis to avoid the traffic, the confusion and the dangers that are appearing on Cairo, Egypt’s, streets. I mean, I was surprised the people in Cairo, these native Egyptians, were surprised they could take a water taxi and get to where they wanted to go using the Nile River as a highway. So, for the Egyptians living in Cairo, everything old is brand new again.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • RONN MOTT: Black Dog

    We had some excitement around our house the other day and it was not the good kind.
    There was a small dog, black in color with a spiked collar on his neck, and he was the spitting image of a small Doberman. I don’t know if they have miniature Dobermans but this dog could have been a mixed breed that came out looking like a Doberman although smaller.

    July 8, 2014

  • MS. TAKES: Great music is made during all generations

    Number Two son tells us that his 20-year-old son has been listening to “Big Band” music with apparent enjoyment. As if that wasn’t enough of a surprise, I was talking with a young girl, barely out of her teens and she told us that she really wasn’t into rap. She said, “It isn’t really music, it’s just talk.”

    July 7, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Learning more about Jefferson

    During this Fourth of July weekend, I’ll be reading John Meacham’s biography of Thomas Jefferson.

    July 4, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: The Men Who Made the Country

    The Fourth of July is the day we celebrate our independence from Great Britain. It reminds me of something David Ben-Gurion would say, at a much later date, about British rule: “If you have to have a master, the British are about as good at it as anybody.” Of course, we really don’t need a master.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: Cats

    Looking at the situation as a whole, the adopted cats, plus one, seem to be doing OK. The boys, Magic and Mellow, like to roam occasionally, which causes some consternation when they are gone for a long time.

    July 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • LIZ CIANCONE: Oldtime fans will never give up on the Cubbies

    My Best Friend claims to be the world’s oldest living Cubs fan. I am willing to take him at his word, but surely there is some long-lived fan out there in the right field bleachers who would dispute his claim.

    June 30, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: These are tough times to be an opossum

    Who killed the opossum before man and the automobile? The automobile and mankind have started an evolutionary run on how the opossum continues his bloodline.

    June 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • RONN MOTT: These are tough times to be an opossum

    Who killed the opossum before man and the automobile? The automobile and mankind have started an evolutionary run on how the opossum continues his bloodline.

    June 27, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: Teamwork

    Teamwork. You remember the drill. In the movie “Hoosiers,” the coach demanded four passes before anything else happened on the court. The idea of teamwork is you work toward a victory by making sure your self-interest doesn’t come before the team.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: World Cup

    I remember in junior high school, in physical education class, we were told to meet outside. The track and baseball diamond were in back of the school. We were met with a small, dimpled ball and the teacher told us it was soccer. It is played all over the world and you can use your head, your body and your feet, but not your hands. I decided then it was not a game for me.

    June 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • MS. TAKES: Words no one wants to hear: ‘At your age’

    The other evening, a friend limped into the dining room. Judging from the grimace, she was in some degree of pain, so I asked if she had fallen.

    June 23, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Great effort brings rewards

    I want to tip my hat to young David Fuson who has become the spokesperson for the family business.

    June 20, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Iraq, again

    Mohammad, the prophet of Islam, lifted into Heaven on a rock, on a hill, in Jerusalem. The binding of military might and strategies, and a religion that was meant for everyone, began to fall apart at that time in history.

    June 19, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: The Stanley Cup

    I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy, a proud American who wants to see the USA win just about everything — except the Stanley Cup.

    June 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • LIZ CIANCONE: Son has a knack for rescuing lost birds

    I think the excitement of last week is over — for now. It all began when Number One son opened the door to a storage area and found a small bird, very much alive. Because my family likes to talk in a soothing voice to all animals, Number One assured the little guy that he was not to worry. “I’ll take you back outside so you can find your family.” Oddly enough, the little bird calmed down and sat quietly in our son’s hand until he put it down outside.

    June 17, 2014

  • tsBennett MARK BENNETT: Dad-to-dad advice

    Giving unsolicited advice is like offering somebody else your toothbrush, because it’s worked so well for you.

    June 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • RONN MOTT: Looking back on yet another birthday

    I have a birthday this week. And, I suppose that like some of you, I tend to look back over the lifespan to reflect on how it has been going.

    June 13, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: The Tony Awards

    The opening of the Tony Awards saw Hugh Jackman hopping down Broadway, into the theatre, down the aisle, a big leap onto the stage, then back stage and back out to start the show … all the time hopping like the Wolverine that he is.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

Latest News Poll
AP Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets
NDN Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010