What becomes, then, of its legitimacy? Advertising is still death, of course; there were more cigarettes in the show last night than there have been since the early seasons. People figured he had "connections," and he did -- his connections called our house, like old friends. ", "Dad, I like the Raiders against the Jets minus-9.". We saw many games now considered historic and witnessed the transformation of Super Bowl Sunday into a national civic holiday. At the end, Rogers asks the dying man to pray for him. He scared me often to tears, and football gave me a way of talking to him without crying. Tom idolized his father, despite his shortcomings. Slate relies on advertising to support our journalism. Jalen Ramsey: The man, the mouth, the legend. Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company. And the scene about Vogel’s childhood toy, Old Rabbit, is straight from his profile, which opens with a description of Old Rabbit. There’s not a whole lot of information about Junod’s wife, Janet, in either of his pieces. If it did ever happen, it puts him beyond either pride or shame, allowing him to stay where he wished to live—in the realm of myth. But that arrangement has been dissolved by no less august an authority than the Supreme Court, and the league will one day earn a portion of its revenue from an activity it has tried to keep at arm's length. And when, on Super Bowl Sundays, he placed a bet, sotto voce, for "a thousand dollars," well, he was risking something unimaginable. The calls came to my parents' bedroom. But the story the buyer in Houston told about Zsa Zsa Gabor was different. He liked the Steelers, but he bet against them when they played the Rams in Super Bowl XIV, because Vince Ferragamo looked like a movie star. That is, he slept with her. He said the only contact he'd had with her was when she was married to George Sanders, and my father was singing in a New Orleans hotel—my father was an honorary band singer, in the same way that he was as an honorary celebrity—and she stepped out and started swaying in front of the microphone, all alone except for his crooning voice. You’ve run out of free articles. Sixteen years after his death, Fred Rogers is having a bit of a moment. Who set the line? His desperation is what survived him; when I cleaned out his apartment after he was gone, there was a paper trail of stocks of which I'd never heard and, spilling out of the drawers of the dresser in his bedroom, a thick mulch of lottery tickets, like the end of a ticker-tape parade. My father had to pay him no matter what -- no matter what -- a requirement made clear when he visited my father's office and my brother asked: "What happens if someone doesn't pay?" He did eventually go to the Pittsburgh set as well as Rogers’ childhood home in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. As Junod’s profile points out, when Rogers accepted his Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997, he stood “in front of all the soap-opera stars and talk-show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms” and said, “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. In the movie, Joanne reveals to Vogel that her husband begins every morning by swimming and praying for people by name, and at one point, Rogers discloses that he’s a vegetarian. But he lost precisely what he was out to win, which was everything, or everything but my mother, who stayed with him to the bitter end. Unlike the barely-there similarities between Junod and Vogel, Hanks’ Fred Rogers uncannily resembles the real Rogers in mannerisms (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood opens with the familiar routine of Rogers changing from his blue sports coat to his red cardigan, and Hanks’ use of silence, as if waiting for the audience to respond, is at once familiar and unsettling) and is largely faithful in terms of biography. After all, my father called me a "walking encyclopedia" when it came to football, because all I did was study my Street & Smith's annuals, my Pro Football Weekly and the cheaply printed tip sheets he bought at dear price because they "guaranteed" winners. What is the difference between legal and illegal gambling? He played the stock market instead, an industry in which the touts and the bookmakers are fused into a corporate entity. But they met on Sundays, after church or, in my father's case, instead of church. This is all true, too. The Last Remaining Evidence of My Father's Voice, The 6 Best Books for Fathers on Father's Day. Was betting on games quasi-legal or quasi-illegal? She wasn't my sex symbol, or my generation's, and I had no idea, growing up, that she was my father's; unlike Raquel Welch and Jayne Mansfield, he posted no pictures of her on the wall of his bar or inside the door of his closet. Last year, the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? For another, it lacked the splendor that transformed most stories about him into myths. He denied it at first. He bet the Dolphins when they lost to the Cowboys and the Redskins when they lost to the Dolphins, enamored with George Allen's "Over the Hill Gang." The movie is loosely framed as an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, opening with the character of Fred Rogers speaking directly to the audience about the story of Lloyd Vogel. He gambled because he liked, as he always told me, "a little action, a little interest," and because life lacked savor without "a little larceny." The AFL's last stand as an independent entity in Super Bowl IV, in which Hank Stram's Chiefs portended the NFL's glorious future? He spoke with an adulterer's prerogative, and yet when he spoke about—when he admitted to—having sex with Zsa Zsa Gabor, he wasn't quite speaking of adultery. With her pinkie and forefinger extended, she'd put the horns on placekickers especially, and when they missed, she'd cackle in triumph: "See? My father bet long shots, my mother favorites; my father played poker and blackjack, my mother the slot machines; my father believed that he was cursed and my mother believed that she had the power to curse him. He exuded crookedness but not danger -- the kind of leg breaker who signed the cast -- and my father used to visit him and drink coffee at the counter. The difference is in the winning, or in what people like my father expected to win when placing a bet. He just had to put the paper in front of me with the Latest Line, hand me what was left of a pencil and ask me who I liked. The real journalist, Tom Junod, says that his father, Lou Junod, was in fact an eccentric, boozy philanderer, but he "had never rejected him or his message." The first time that Vogel visits Rogers’ New York apartment, they take the train. The buyer must've seen this thought play out on my face because she then tried to take it all back: "I shouldn't have told you. If you value our work, please disable your ad blocker. His friends loved and sometimes feared my father, but when they came to our Super Bowl parties, they occasionally exchanged glances that suggested they feared for him -- and for my mother. I proposed a "What I've Learned" interview with the idea that I'd show her a picture of Lou after it was over and I'd ask her: Did he or didn't he? We soon learn that he’s recently become a father, and there’s a palpable discomfort in his interactions with his wife, Andrea (Susan Kelechi Watson), and his newborn son. He had an underworld glamour, even to his own children, and a reputation. My father spoke to them in code. The Lou Junod who had long-term affairs with women he met on the road was as treacherous a figure as my mother suggested he was. I would come to the kitchen table for breakfast and he would hand me a stub of a pencil and open the paper before me to the Latest Line. But the little box of agate type, with its strange cuneiform flourishes -- "home team in CAPS" -- was all mine, and I would stare at it like a scholar until my father asked, "Who do you like? The Lou Junod who had a fling with Zsa Zsa Gabor—Zsa Zsa Gabor!—was so outsized that he was ridiculous, and that's how I knew him, that's how I laughed at him, and that's how I loved him. My father wanted to live outside it, though within the borders of family. In the movie, Lloyd's father, Jerry Vogel (Chris Cooper), is almost entirely fictional. But it was not an easy question, given all that hinged on the answer. He did not invest; he gambled on long shots or, as he called them, "s--- stocks," with the same degree of acumen he brought to football. According to Junod, his first meeting with Rogers occurred at the latter’s New York apartment, which is shown later in the film. But who was behind Rozelle? If it did ever happen, it puts him beyond either pride or shame, allowing him to stay where he wished to live—in the realm of myth. But she wasn't having any of it. He didn't find a new bookie in his new home. They also saw my mother trying to placate the gods of chance by hexing players with what she called "giving them the horns." In Junod’s Atlantic piece, he writes that Isler “hadn’t wanted Fred to cooperate with my story, because he had read my stories and knew the cruelty I was capable of.” And though there is a real clip of Rogers fumbling with a tent for a solid two minutes, it’s from 1975—about two decades before Junod did his profile. My father was, in fact, an inept gambler, but he never blamed me for his losses, at least not out loud, and I never rooted for any team but the teams on which he'd put money. He not only looked the part, with his pinkie ring and French cuffs and blue dress shirts white at the collar, he played it, cultivating an air of danger.