Celebrating Sid

Eyes Bulge Out
I know a lot of guys badmouth Sid because he frequently yells at people who aren’t his personal friends. But this is what you don’t know: He yells because he cares and he wants us to win. He wants our teams to win and our city to win. Hell, he wants our country and our way of life to win. The Snapper remembers a time in 1991 when Sid yelled at some bleeding-heart sports writers at Williams Arena. These doofuses were standing around wondering out loud whether we were doing the right thing by fighting in Iraq. They got quite an earful. “Listen,” Sid yelled, “America is the greatest country in the world and we’re at war!” These guys shut up real fast and shifted around looking at each other, knowing in their hearts that Sid was right as usual.

Then there was the infamous incident during the 1975 NFC Championship game at the Met, where the Vikings were denied another trip to the Super Bowl thanks to a terrible non-call by referee Armen Terzian. After going up on Dallas 14-10 with only 1:51 left to go, Vikings fans were convinced they had their third straight Super Bowl trip lined up. The famed Purple People Eaters defense would hold the lead. But Roger Staubach launched a Hail Mary pass toward receiver Drew Pearson, who caught the lucky TD toss after clearly committing offensive pass interference on cornerback Nate Wright. Terzian, standing right there, threw no flag. The Vikes suffered a stunning loss, the fans got ugly, and Terzian was conked on the head with a whisky bottle, opening a bloody gash. Moments after the game ended, Sid burst into the referee’s locker room and started screaming at the dazed and bleeding Terzian, calling him and the whole crew horseshit. After that, the NFL instituted a “pool reporter” rule for interviewing referees.

People don’t understand that Sid is motivated by competitive zeal. He just wants us to win. But it can make him pretty scary. “Sid’s temper was pretty livid,” Peterson says. “When he got mad his eyes sort of bugged out. When I knew him, even though he was in his late 60s, he still was a very handsome guy, nice and tanned. But when he got mad, a big change came over him. He looked like a sewer rat. His cheeks and forehead would tighten up, his eyes bulged out.”

Listen, Peterson. Here’s what. That’s Sid’s game face. No one gets anywhere in the sports world by being a nice guy. Look at the real winners out there—Bobby Knight, George Steinbrenner, Lou Holtz, Bud Grant (all friends of Sid). These guys show no mercy and neither should anyone else who expects to be a champ.

Doesn’t Like Troublemakers
As the Dean of sportswriting in America, Sid isn’t afraid to keep the other sportwriters in line. When he lets them have it, you can bet they aren’t going to brag about it—which is why these stories don’t make it into print too often. Folks in the press-box say Sid and his close personal friend Tony Parker came to blows once. Sid always felt competitive with the longtime sports anchor for KMSP-TV. Once out at the old Met, Sid was harassing Tony to the point where Tony lost his cool and slammed the Midwest’s number one sports personality up against the press-box wall. Whenever Sid saw Parker after that, he’d mutter, “There goes Tough Tony.” Then again, the guys probably made that story up to make Sid look bad. Sid says this whole story is “bullshit,” and I believe him.

See, Sid knows the difference between guys who have paid their dues and those who haven’t. When he needles these lesser reporters, it’s because they’re not doing their jobs. They may think they have the inside stories, but most of the time what they’re up to is causing trouble. They don’t care about the team winning, they just want to cook up some scandal.

Another would-be sports-writing rival to Sid was a longtime Vikings scribe who was at the center of Purple Pride in the late 70s and saw Sid unleash his competitive side more than a few times. He wants to stay anonymous, because he knows Sid could ruin his career in a New York minute.

“In 1987, the Vikings were at Chicago and Wade Wilson gets injured on the last play of the game. So the next game is at home, and Rich Gannon, a rookie, starts at quarterback for the first time. He has a good game at home, but the Vikes lose. After the game I was asking Gannon if he thought he’d be able to keep the starting job until Wilson came back. Hartman was standing there when I ask my question. Gannon gives all the ‘right’ answers, saying things like, ‘It’s not my decision, I’ll do what they ask me…’ I got nothing I could use. Then I asked him about his relationship with head coach Jerry Burns, whether it had changed now that he was the starter, and he said, ‘Not much.’ I get back into the press box, and Sid starts yelling in my face. He’s an icon, and here he is cussing me out, saying, ‘All you f—-ing young guys, you’re trying to get Gannon to rip Wilson and rip the coach!’ He’s so mad he starts shaking, and a big gob of spit comes out of his mouth and lands on this pink shirt he’s wearing. All I can do after that is just look down at this big drool spot, and so he just walks away. All the other sports writers asked me, ‘What the hell just happened?’ I said, ‘All I did was ask Gannon a couple of questions,’ and I replayed the tape of the interview. Jim Souhan, Gregg Wong, they’re all listening. They start laughing and say, ‘Leave it to Sid to go off on something like that.’ Wong says, ‘Good for you, you broke your Sid cherry.’

“From that point on, I’ve just had no problems with him.”

Maybe it’s because this guy shaped up. Or moved out of town.

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