Writing about Alex Karras in today’s Sports On TV: Archer’s 15 Greatest Sports Moments sent me down a YouTube rabbit hole, and I cannot believe what I found.
If you’re like me, you know George Plimpton best from Ken Burns’ Baseball and from that one episode of ‘The Simpsons’ where he tries to talk Lisa into throwing a spelling bee for a college scholarship and a hot plate (“it’s perfect for soup!”). In the 1950s and 60s, Plimpton was a prolific sportswriter and author whose schtick was signing up to participate in pro sports without any training or know-how, then writing about his experience. He boxed with Sugar Ray Robinson, stood in net for the Boston Bruins, pitched in a post-season exhibition game at Yankee Stadium under coach Mickey Mantle and attended preseason training as a backup quarterback for the Detroit Lions. These moments were shared in beautifully-written books or in the pages of Sports Illustrated.
Also one time he learned pro wrestling against the dad from ‘Webster’ dressed like a caveman lion. That was … uh, not written about beautifully.
This video, and I say this without exaggeration, is the greatest thing in history.
It opens with Plimpton alone in the gimpiest wrestling ring in history, wearing a Harvard sweatshirt with matching sweatpants. The most George Plimpton possible outfit. From out of nowhere, a CAVEMAN LION sneaks up on him. At the last minute the ruse is revealed — it’s actually Plimpton’s good friend, former Detroit Lion/pro wrestler Alex Karras, and he’s here to teach George a thing or two about pro graps. He’s seen George perform other sports, so why not wrestling? Because wrestling is not a real sport! BUT HERE GOES!
Karras teaches George to “think tough” and runs him through some basic holds, like the armbar and the full nelson. They affably chat as they grapple, and then out of nowhere a girl in a bathing suit runs in to attack George at Alex’s orders! But WAIT A MINUTE FANS, it’s a SWERVE, as she downs Karras with a series of armdrags in the most Benny Hill shit you have ever seen. FREEZE FRAMES AND FAIL HORNS.
After that, Karras and Plimpton calmly sit in the bleachers and talk about writing. Then, as if out of nowhere, Karras starts making gay jokes about the Harvard football team. OH MY GOD I LOVE THIS VIDEO SO MUCH, YOU GUYS. In a perfect world, this blog would only be videos of George Plimpton and Lionheart Alex Karras being weird old pro wrestling intellectuals taking comedy cheesecake bumps.