SURRATT: Of New Year’s resolutions and John Madden

Published 4:00 am Thursday, December 30, 2021

Friday is the final day of the year.

Tomorrow night, we say goodbye to 2021 and welcome 2022. There will be the usual television shows from New York and other large cities where balls will be dropped to the accompaniment of rock music or whatever passes as popular music performed by a band that can’t play, accompanying a singer who can’t sing.

The area around my home will change from the quiet little spot of Vicksburg that we usually enjoy to a combat zone as people shoot off fireworks and firearms well into Saturday morning.

Which reminds me — have you made your New Year’s resolutions? You know, things you announce at some point during Friday night or early Saturday morning that you are going to do in the new year. It’s a practice we do every year, following an age-old tradition that dates back to ancient history.

According to the website History.com, the ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year, although their year didn’t begin until mid-March when the crops were planted.

It was during a big 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, that the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king and promised the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor — a place no one wanted to be.

So, have you made your resolutions like you did last year? And how many of the ones you made last year did you keep? We all have a miserable track record when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, but we keep making them. Let’s try this year and keep some simple ones like being more respectful and understanding of our fellow man and try to somehow make Vicksburg and Warren County, our little world, a better place for all.

Now I’m going to switch gears.

I was saddened to hear of the death of John Madden, former football coach of the Oakland Raiders and television football analyst. There was once a time I was a fan of the National Football League, and in those early years before the merger, a fan of the rival American Football League. Going even further into it, I was a Houston Oiler fan — that was before owner Bud Adams snuck the team to Nashville — so I didn’t like John Madden’s Raiders.

John Madden’s career as a coach spanned 10 years and included such feats as the “Holy Roller” and the “Immaculate Reception.” The Roller led to an Oakland win over the San Diego Chargers. The second led to a Pittsburgh Steelers win and is probably still one of the most debated plays in pro football.

But what made John Madden a household name was his commentary during TV NFL broadcasts where he broke down plays using words like “BAM!” and “Doink.” He probably brought more fans to football and educated more people about the game than any gimmick or individual. And the game owes him more than it can afford to give.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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