New Thing #254: Glickman

GlickmanI had a free weekend of HBO this past weekend. I can't overdo it when one of these free weekends comes along.

I just don't have the time to binge watch a show like The Sopranos anymore. (Two Sopranos references in two days! It can almost challenge football's dominance this week!)

But if there's a show or a movie that catches my eye, I can either watch one or DVR it and watch it a little bit later - I have the time for that.

Thankfully, this documentary caught my eye - because I had seen an ad for it and I was psyched to watch it.

It's called Glickman - a documentary about Marty Glickman, who I remember primarily as the Jets broadcaster when I was little.

But his life was much, much more than that.

The first words you hear in the documentary are in Glickman's voice - "I don't remember ever walking as a young person. I always ran. It was just in my nature to run." I feel like I've heard this quote from him before...or maybe I read it. (Or maybe it was in the commercial for the documentary that I saw.) Regardless, it's a powerful quote.

Marty Glickman, above all else, was an athlete. Primarily, he was a runner. An Olympic-quality runner. Unfortunately, he was a Jewish American Olympic-quality runner in the 1930s. And the 1936 Olympics, when Glickman was 18 years old, were held in Hitler's Germany. And Glickman's American coaches - for what were later found to be Nazi sympathizing reasons - kept him from competing in those Olympic games. (It's somewhat chilling to see the video footage of the 1936 Olympics and all of the goodwill shown towards Hitler.)

I didn't know anything about Glickman when I was younger other than his voice. (When I placed a face to the voice it was close to the image you see above, which was featured in the documentary - that's how I remember Marty Glickman.) I think the first thing I learned about him later on in life was that he was really the first ex-athlete to become a broadcaster. He was really a pioneer in the field...a field about which I care a lot. Probably too much.

Glickman was an early sports broadcasting giant - calling the Giants, Knicks, Rangers, horse racing and any other number of sports and teams in addition to the Jets.

His voice means a lot to me - and it's featured prominently in this documentary. It's filled with passion and anger and sadness when he talks about how he was wronged in 1936 and when he talks about his biggest regret in life the following year. It almost has a 'gotcha' tone to it when he talks about how he realized no one was broadcasting basketball and took advantage of that to become the voice of the game. (And then prominent Glickman fans and proteges like Bob Costas, Marv Albert, David Stern, Larry King, and Mike Breen talk about the basketball broadcasting terms Glickman invented at that time.) He's frank when he talks about how he describes the games. It all reminds me of being in the car listening to Glickman's voice talking about the Jets. (And I didn't remember until the end of the documentary that his time with the Jets that I remember so clearly was actually post-retirement, when he came back to the Jets for a few years to finish his career.)

There's a bonus great story embedded in the documentary about Lou Zamperini, another one about how as broadcaster of the Giants Glickman beat some of the players in a footrace.

It's not the best-made documentary I've ever seen. (I'm getting old - sometimes just the very fact that graphics are too small and I can't read them is reason enough for me to get frustrated with a program. Also, I now call things "programs.") But it's a good sports documentary.

And, if you grew up like me, parts of its greatness lie in the sentimental reasons.