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Dowd: Pigskin pride and prejudice, a modern tale

  • In this undated photo released by Miramax films, Anne Hathaway, right, and James McAvoy portray author Jane Austen and her love interest, Thomas Lefroy, in the film "Becoming Jane." A new film and biography on Jane Austen suggest the young Austen who wrote "Pride and Prejudice" and "Sense and Sensibility" was not the solitary genius long imagined by historians, but a spirited young woman whose imagination was fed by a passionate, ill-fated courtship. The theory, presented by historian Jon Spence in his book, "Becoming Jane Austen," has been loosely adapted into a film starring Anne Hathaway and Maggie Smith, one of seven Austen-inspired movies and television miniseries due for release this year. (AP Photo/Miramax, HO) ** NO SALES EDITORIAL USE ONLY **

I dreamed of Peyton Manning.

In my dream, I was trying to shield him from the bitter wind in Foxborough. But he still looked like a frozen block of ice, with a red nose and watery eyes. Yet it was so much better than my usual nightmares about President Ted Cruz that I wondered why I hadn't started watching football a long time ago.

When my sports-crazy family would drone on about football at holidays, I would sometimes slip into a bedroom to take a break with Jane Austen. I had no interest in hearing about sulky brutes cracking heads. When we were children, my brother christened my kittens with the names of Redskins linebackers and slammed their little heads together — until I caught him. I was worried about concussions long before it became a cause c??re. Kitty-cussions.

Re-reading Austen, I could get lost in a fascinating honeycomb of relationships. I could delve into a rigid male-dominated hierarchical society with pompous wealthy overlords and opportunistic strivers and alluring young protagonists faltering with immature misjudgments and public opprobrium.

Then the Redskins drafted Robert Griffin III, with his gladiator glamour, and I was suddenly a fan, getting irate when my niece's birthday party was scheduled during the Redskins-Cowboys game.

And funnily enough, I was soon getting lost in a fascinating honeycomb of relationships. I was delving into a rigid male-dominated hierarchical society with pompous wealthy overlords and opportunistic strivers and alluring young protagonists faltering with immature misjudgments and public opprobrium.

Austen, the master of tangled sibling dramas, would have appreciated the face-off in September between quarterbacks Peyton and little brother Eli, as their father watched and Peyton wore the 18 jersey in honor of his father and older brother.

Austen would have been amused at last year's Super Bowl between the coaching Harbaugh brothers, especially the moment when John Harbaugh, identifying himself only as "John from Baltimore," phoned into a news conference with his parents to ask, "Is it true that both of you like Jim better than John?"

The 19th-century author of "Emma," the best makeover story ever, would have marveled at the macho makeover saga in Miami with the thuggish Richie Incognito trying to harden the brainy, viola-playing, Stanford-educated Jonathan Martin — the "bully" and the "baby," as Mike Ditka curtly called them.

The 22-year-old RGIII swept into town like Emma Woodhouse, "handsome, clever and rich," as Austen wrote of her 20-year-old title character, but spoiled by "the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself."


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