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Doubtless, we all extend our peak experiences into the realm of legend in our own mind.  On a long voyage, a sailor will likely begin to think of the adventures of Sinbad the Sailor.  And a high School quarterback – say a high school quarterback – will extend the thinking of preparing for a division championship into thoughts of playing in the Super Bowl.

But in the Santa Clarita Valley, there is an actually living legend of a former Hart High School Quarterback who did go on – to play in the Rose Bowl.  And then he went into the professional Canadian Football League where he drove his team into the league championship Grey Bowl. Finally he went into the NFL where he commanded the Minnesota Vikings into the world’s fourth Super Bowl in 1970.

The guy is Joe Kapp, the only quarterback in history to play in all three landmark football  bowls.  Of course, when I mention the year “1970,”  I realize I may now be losing a little of readers who only know that year by hearsay.  And I understand I will lose even more readers when I mention that Kapp last played football for Hart High in the year 1955, a time that most people now probably want to see it in Elvis Presley movies to make sure it once existed.

And I lose even more readers when I mention that Kapp last played football for Hart High in 1955, the time that most people want to see an Elvis Presley movie to make sure that 1955 even existed.

But even ancient history can have a point to it, which should not be lost if it had already served a good point.  My interest is that a certified California history teacher whose job it is to bring these good points up.  Whether or not my certification has actually expired  -- I think it has expired, alas -- I am still teaching such history in spurts, even in this space.

So my issue about Mr. Kapp is that he has passed through (I really mean “burned through”) the three biggest escalating rites of passage in the game of football.  That is, he has played as quarterback in the Rose Bowl, the Canadian pro football championship Grey Cup while leading the BC Lions, and that 1970 Super Bowl against Hank Stram’s Kansas City Chiefs.  In fact, most of America’s football players stop at a much earlier rite of passage – their high school graduation.

Even those who continue to play football after high school are stopped at a certain level that finally overcomes them.  Everyone that is except for the rare breed that includes Mr. Kapp.

It is logical that Joe Kapp had all the nervousness who is playing on any new level of football for the first time.  But he covered up his nervous mode with a combat mode that he spread all over himself.  He is remembered as always bristling, on the field and off, so that while he didn’t start a fight and was described as sensitive and helpful by his friends and teammates, people learned to approach him front on so that his natural game-day combativeness didn’t tempt him to swing a punch at you when he was watching his team on the field.

So in the end the larger story of both Sinbad the Sailor and the now 78-year-old Joe the Hart High School Football Player is about how both overcame the natural uncertainty that stirs to every new rite of passage, by willing a forcefulness that leads to a greater life of passages and adventures.  He lives now in Los Gatos, California, the married patriarch of football-playing sons and grandsons, and shortly after he closed his popular Kapp’s Pizza Bar and Grill it was reported in local press that he was battling Alzheimer’s Disease.  But increasingly, there are reports of extraordinary people who are battling Alzheimer’s more successfully, and ever since his days at Hart High Kapp has developed a history in success and being extraordinary.

 

Chris Sharp- Commentary

Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon