In honor of this year's football milestones, ESPN The Magazine scoured our archives to see what we were up to a century ago. And boy howdy, were we surprised! With a world war ceasing, a Bambino ascending and an NFL emerging, our founding editors found inspiration for many hot takes -- or, as they called them back then, "fervid promulgations."
"Ruth's Buffoonish Blasts: Bad for Base-ball?"
EXCERPT: "Scuttlebutt is run amok that Beantown's Brain Trust may turn Young Ruth -- preternatural pitching phenomenon, he -- into a full-time out-fielder, owing to the predilection the Orphan from Baltimore has shown for walloping prodigious circuit-clouts. Blasphemy, we say! Ruth, possessor of a sinking-ball that's bedeviled myriad batsmen, is a baby-faced mounds-man o' the highest order, of far greater worth atop a rubber than swinging from his heels like some barbarous brute."
"Immodest Dempsey Bares Burley Buttocks"
EXCERPT: "Here Dempsey -- pugilist and world's heavyweight champion -- is photo-graphed unclad whilst engaged in the manly arts of gym-nastics. E'er a pioneer, the bared bruiser Dempsey proudly trumpets his routine of world-class brawn and vigor: milking a fully laden mule dry in mere minutes, pulling wagonsful of equine feed to a livery five furlongs away, while devouring five daily servings of boiled pig's entrails. Pectoralis major, indeed! Of such stuff is what champs are made!"
"Playoff Posthaste to Save Collegiate Past-time"
EXCERPT: "Lo, but confusion reigns across the land: A season marred by the ebb of a Great War and the Spanish Flu pandemic has yielded no champion to speak of. Is it the unbeaten Wolverines of Michigan? What of the Princeton Tigers, who surrendered but one score all season? Or the Long-horned Texans, triumphant in all nine contests? Surely, a unified tournament, of no fewer than eight such worthy contenders, is nigh! Shall we not all expect suchsame by decade-end? Hornswoggle!"
"'Professional-i-sation' of Foot-ball? Malarkey!"
EXCERPT: "Bringing the sport from the realm of the amateur to that of the paid professional? Flimflammery! Why, the Middle-West of this nation, home to the doomed Columbus Panhandles, Akron Pros and the other athletic indigents of the Ohio League, shall never equal the Ivied foot-ball strongholds of New Haven and Cambridge. Surely, 'tis a game best left to gentlemen of collegiate mettle. A national foot-ball league? It will find no aegis here. We most verily decree it!"