Football Hero/ The Glory of the Few

from by Anne Feeney

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I wrote this song in 1990 - long before the story of concussive disorders in football hit the news. Here's my essay on football:

Every year millions of dollars are awarded in college athletic scholarships. What would our society look like today if we had instead distributed those millions of dollars to the most academically promising students? I mourn the disabling "sports" carnage that starts in elementary school. I grieve for the thousands of disabled middle school, junior high and high school students who will never get that chance for a college scholarship. What if black students became Nobel Laureates instead of media objects - like William "Refrigerator" Perry?

Would inner city students and their families come to see good grades as the way out of poverty? I worry for the crop of college athletes who will become disabled without ever getting an NFL tryout. In college, athletes are often placed in easy courses and graduate without basic college skills.

For the .0001% who make it to the NFL, most can look forward to a 3 year "career" before injuries take them off the bench for good. I greatly support physical fitness and exercise. But I want to see games for play, not for pay... and free university education for all!


He's been running down the field now for 17 years,
Monday morning finds him face to face with his fears
His knees are shot, and no more surgery recommended
And though his body is broken at 25
Playing ball's the only way he ever learned to survive
He'll be the last one to know his glory days have ended

And he's a lucky one, he had that season in the NFL
Didn't some writer say "Few ever played the game so well"?
And he can read at the sixth grad level
Oh that never seemed to matter beforhe
Now every Monday morning, he's wondering how he's gonna get by
After the game while his teammates revel
You'll find him packed up in ice and oh-so-sore
They boy is too old to work - and too young to die

Still when Sunday rolls around you'll find him headed for that Coliseum
And as that crowd roars out, he thinks that they all want to be him
While generations of has-beens and would-bes cheer in
Their La-Z-Boy recliners drinking Coors Lite beer
They say he's crazy to keep going
You know they might be right

The racketeers make money off him, win or lose
The advertisers use him up to sell their booze
The agents and the owners and the lawyers are happy tonight
And though it breaks his heart to have to admit it
He knows the game's just not much fun anymore
Still he'll numb the pain, suck in his breath and give it a try
If he could that boy would surely quit it
But the odds are against him - He knows the score
He's too old to work, and too young to die.


from War on the Workers a Tribute to Anne Feeney, released December 28, 2016
© Anne Feeney (BMI) /
The Glory of the Few © Chris Chandler, Ninth Wave Publishing
Dan Bern- Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
Chris Chandler- Vocals
Recorded at the Monkey House; Berkeley, CA By Ira Marlowe
Arranged by Dan Bern, Jen Delyth and Chris Chandler



all rights reserved


Anne Feeney Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Anne Feeney is a front-line singer and agitator well-versed in the traditions of Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs and Tom Lehrer.

She's taken her musical message all over the US and Canada as well as Sweden and Denmark.

Based in Pittsburgh, PA, For almost 50 years, Anne has gone to wherever the fires of resistance burn brightly, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.
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