In the 1970s there wasn’t a character bigger than EVEL KNIEVEL! The news of his passing on Nov 30th will be like asking me where I was on 9/11. Where do I begin? He has been called the God Father of Action Sports! Evel shut up and put up even when he knew he would get hurt or killed! In the end, inspired a whole generation to live in the warmth of the sun and never compromise your dreams and goals! As a 7-year-old kid on a BMX bike, I tried stunts I never would have thought about on my own. Landed some, came up short on many. Evel got up ever time. The quote that comes to mind after the jump in Wimbly was “a man is never a failure unless he refuses to get back up”. This guy was all broken and still had the guts to belt out words to live by. That was the mojo that made Evel headline news today, not the pills and rap video. The country was coming out of the Vietnam era and the national pride was bruised. Evel’s inspiration reminded the nation what made it great. I remember this interview with Evel where he had this amazing quote, Teddy Roosevelt said it originally and Evel put his spin on it:
“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” – Evel Knievel/ Teddy Roosevelt
It’s funny how the reporters missed the real spark/ inspiration that made EVEL a legend. They talked about the recent stuff like Kanye West and the medication for the injuries. It was the showman ship ladies and gentleman. Before Tony Roberts did his motivational speeches it was EVEL, before Tony Hawk boosted his 900, it was EVEL, before rock stars knew how to party, it was EVEL, before the WWE had a stage, and again, it was EVEL!
Why is it that when we find a mentor or inspiration person they let us down in the end? Power corrupts and EVEL was no angel. I’ve hear first hand stories of how rude, mean and scitzo the guy really was. I scratch my head and wonder how we as a society reward these mean spirited, hypocritical people. A conclusion is that guys like Evel did what ever they pleased and had no apologies or remorse. They showed us how we could live the life we dream. Do you want to live in the grey twilight?