This would have been the mid-1980s. My agent got me a gig doing two weeks of promotional work for Miller Lite. The star of the promotion was retired NFL Hall-of-Famer Deacon Jones. The co-star was another unforgettable retired NFL defensive lineman, Ben Davidson.
So on the first Monday morning of the gig, I walked into the coffee-break room of the production studio, where I was told I was to meet Deacon and Ben, aka Mr. Jones and Mr. Davidson. I entered the break room and tried to stay as inconspicuous as possible.
But suddenly, The Voice of Thor rang out. “PAUL ALEXANDER!” I smiled thinly and waved. I was terrified. Deacon looked down at a piece of paper and took a sip of coffee. The Voice boomed again.
“PAUL ALEXANDER! ARE YOU PAUL ALEXANDER? IT SAYS HERE YOUR NAME IS PAUL ALEXANDER!” I could almost feel Deacon head-slapping an offensive tackle and drawing a bead on me.
“Yes, sir, Mr. Jones. I’m Paul Alexander.” But at the moment I would have much preferred to be Joni Mitchell.
“ARE YOU A GODDAMMED QUARTERBACK?”
No, sir, Mr. Jones. I am not a goddammed quarterback.”
“ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE NOT A GODDAMMED QUARTERBACK?”
“I’m sure, Mr. Jones.”
“GOOD! BECAUSE I HATE GODDAMMED QUARTERBACKS!”
“I understand, Mr. Jones. Quarterbacks can be very hateable.” My knees turned into over-hydrated oatmeal.
“PAUL ALEXANDER SOUNDS LIKE THE NAME OF A GODDAMMED QUARTERBACK!”
I glance at Ben. He’s loving this.
“No, Mr. Jones. It’s just my name.”
“YOU EVEN LOOK LIKE A GODDAMMED QUARTERBACK!”
“Mr. Jones, please believe me, I am not a goddammed quarterback.”
“IT’S A GOOD THING! BECAUSE IF YOU WERE A GODDAMMED QUARTERBCK, I’D HAVE TO STUFF YOU IN A GUNNY SACK AND BEAT ON YOU WITH A BASEBALL BAT!”
“Understood, Mr. Jones. That’s the biggest reason I’m glad I’m not a goddammed quarterback.”
Long pause. Followed by big smile. Deacon gets up from his chair and motions me forward.
“Then come over here, Paul Alexander, and shake the Deacon’s hand! We’re gonna get along great and have a lot of fun!”
We did. And we did. And Ben was a hoot, too.
Sometime during the next two weeks I summoned the courage to ask him why he went by Deacon.
“’CAUSE AINT’ NOBODY AFRAID OF DAVID JONES!”
I told him I could dig it.
I asked him about the most horrendous shot on a quarterback I ever saw. It was the time he impaled Craig Morton in the 1969 “Runner-Up Bowl.”
“I DAMN NEAR KILLED CRAIG MORTON!”
Years later I asked Craig Morton about that play.
“Deacon Jones damn near killed me.”