Men in Blazers celebrates the resilience of three tough years

Something miraculous happened Tuesday night at NYU’s Skirball Center in lower Manhattan, and no, it wasn’t Seth Meyers kill with Moyes ...


Men in blazers live

Something miraculous happened Tuesday night at NYU’s Skirball Center in lower Manhattan, and no, it wasn’t Seth Meyers kill with Moyes David jokes.

the Men in blazers the podcast returned to a live recording format after several very difficult years away. Thanks to the cult devotion of football fans (or “soccer” fans, for most of us Americans), the crowd latched onto all the pop culture and Premier League references. It was a gathering of like-minded fanatics, but it wasn’t just about football. The evening was a triumphant and sometimes heartbreaking ode to what we went through and endured for a few shitty years.

For strangers, Men in blazers is the result of Roger Bennett and Michael Daviestwo British expats, although Bennett is now a proud naturalized American citizen. The pair tackle the international world of football but mainly focus on the Premier League and the United States men’s and women’s national teams. They do it with a rapier wit, almost too obscure pop culture references, and a self-effacing mockery that makes them so endearing and endearing to listeners.

Thanks to the reliable generosity of my friend Don SteeleI was able to attend the event (and it can be seen in the photo above, well below Rog’s Budweiser, where I should be).

This is where I confess that I never really listened to the Mio Podcast. I know their work, I watch their TV show once in a while, but I’ve never been a podcaster. I like music when I’m commuting or working out. Sue me.

From that perspective, I was thrilled to attend the Tuesday night taping. I felt like I was stepping into some kind of secular church service that I had heard a lot of good things about but didn’t quite understand.

What I experienced was quite remarkable. It has less to do with the sports world, and more with a feeling we sorely miss now after several years of chaos, a feeling that Bennett and Davies so masterfully delivered.

After a few cursory opening greetings and a group photo, the show launched into a retelling of all the crazy shit we’ve been through over the past few years. Immediately, Bennett fought through his emotions as he recounted how difficult it was to deal with Covid-19. The couple relived those deeply worrying first weeks and months when we were all in a panic.

Davies and Bennett then did something I hadn’t really seen done since the start of the pandemic, and didn’t realize how much I needed it: they told the really tough chapters of our collective battles. against reason in a way that allowed us both to relive some of the scariest moments, but also celebrate the human condition of remaining brave in the face of adversity. Courage, as Bennet likes to say.

To understand the odd marriage of ironic detachment and seriousness involved, consider Bennett’s use of “courage” as a catchphrase. People of a certain age will remember that old CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather was widely mocked for ending every show by saying that word. In classic post-modern style, Bennett sampled the word, reclaiming some of its meaning, with a nod and nod to its tearful Rathereque origins.

So the evening opened with the “sad” part of the lineup which was, in effect, a cathartic re-enactment of what life was like just over two years ago.

There was the mention of the Sassuolo striker Francesco Caputo who, in the last game played before a 69-day break due to Covid, celebrated a goal by holding up a piece of paper with the message ‘It will be fine, stay home’.

There was also Borrusia Dortmund celebrating a win in the first game played after the lockdown ended.

“I have rarely been so excited for a football game outside of a World Cup,” Bennett said. “The sense of football normalcy that returns even in these surreal conditions can bring. A strange sight. Football stripped of handshakes, spitting and supporters. An eerie silence descended just before kick-off when you would normally get a roar from the crowd. Instead, we had silence and wondered ‘would that be enough?!’ But we had football, beautiful football.

Bennett shared how he believes all football fans around the world are connected “in a human way that only sport can conjure” after by Erling Haaland first goal.

But then he described the Dortmund players celebrating as they bowed to a set of empty stands – normally called the yellow wall filled with 25,000 screaming ultras – that Bennett describes so prosaically.

It was a “strange, haunting moment filled with love and a sense of loss, and looking home I was fucking sobbing,” Bennet said, sobbing while telling a story of his sobbing, in what was perhaps the most meta-onomatopoeia of all time.

There was also talk of the murder of George Floyd and the racial reckoning in the world that followed.

“We have always said that football is just a mirror that reflects the society around it,” Bennet said. “And nation to nation, team to team, every club marked that moment that reverberated around the world.”

Bennet then recalled a moment that stayed with him, six days after the murder of George Floyd, the England sensation Jadon Sancho, then still in the Bundesliga, ripped off his shirt after scoring for Dortmund and paid tribute to Floyd with this handwritten message. “A star born in London, playing in Germany, but his mind was on the Minnesota tragedy. The world was watching,” Bennet noted.

To be fair, Bennett was laughing through much of his tears, a waste of emotion received by the adoring crowd with laughter and applause because it was the catharsis we all needed. The crowd was a big, rowdy mix of reflection, relief, pride in our collective resilience, and joy that almost everyone had returned to this long-delayed family reunion.

A notable individual was missing, the Beloved Mio great fan Jason Kennedywho died almost two years ago. A die-hard Liverpool supporter, his life was celebrated during the live taping with a rousing rendition of the Merseyside anthem You will never walk alone. Even the OG Evertonians in attendance sang aloud as Kennedy’s signature Hoosier pinstripe blazer hung in the spotlight on stage.

The evening was an emotional wake-up call that I didn’t know I needed. And I chose to share my experience not because I’m a big fan of Men in blazers (although I am a recent convert.)

Every media outlet should take inspiration from what Davies and Bennett did. Our communities have to face the damn madness of the past three years and deal with it. We need emotional punctuation – to finish the last chapter so we can start a new one.

Men in blazers did it with humor, tears, laughter and a celebration of the human spirit. Sorry to be so corny, but sometimes you have to be brave enough to be a ball of cheese.

Courage.

—-

Listen to the podcast below… the first 20 minutes are a reflection of the past few years, followed by an interview with the USWNT and Gotham FC. Kristie Mewis and Late at night host and big West Ham fan, Seth Meyers.

This is an opinion piece. The opinions expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author.



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