Verne Gagne was 56 when he had his final retirement as the heavyweight champion of the American Wrestling Association in the spring of 1981. Athlete that he was, the fact Gagne owned the company might have assisted in his longevity.
Once Verne was out of the picture as a competitor, there was a battle for AWA supremacy that came down to Nick Bockwinkel, the king of arrogance, and Sheik Adnan El-Kaisy, a madman for power and an Iraqi to boot.
Nearly always in the beloved days of the AWA, the featured rivalry personified Good vs. Evil. This one was unique. It was Evil vs. Evil.
You couldn't root for Nick with his arrogance and sneaky tactics, and if you were a believer in what the United States of America stood for, you sure as Hades couldn't accept the insults the Sheik was aiming at us.
Which is what we've had going as of Friday morning in the National Football League, when the league announced it was giving a six-game suspension to Ezekiel Elliot, the rookie running back sensation for Dallas in 2016.
It has set up a battle for supremacy between Dallas owner Jerry Jones and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. You can't root for Jones, the ownership face of today's "Greed is Good" NFL, and if you're a believer in that old American tradition of allowing the legal process to decide guilt or innocence, you sure as Hades can't root for Goodell.
The Elliott suspension comes from accusations of domestic abuse by Tiffany Thompson. She has called herself a former girlfriend; Elliott has balked at that description of their relationship. She has claimed several instances of physical abuse; Elliott was not charged by law enforcement.
Whatever the reality, there seems no doubt that Elliott is quite the lunkhead. What might most terrify the Cowboys about the six-game suspension is what situations "Zeke" could get himself into during a month and a half away from the team.
Still, he wasn't charged, and I remain astounded by the NFL's pomposity in refusing to consider that rather large factor when making its decisions to suspend players. The NFL grandly tells us of the thoroughness of its investigations, and ignores the fact the people who are trained to do this — law enforcement — have not found a crime.
Goodell's power madness with the "personal conduct policy" has had no limits since the NFL was embarrassed by the revelation of the Ray Rice tape on Sept. 8, 2014.
His demand for complete acquiescence to his power was most evident in the absurd "Deflategate" case against New England quarterback Tom Brady. Patriots owner Robert Kraft challenged Goodell. Brady got rid of a cellphone rather than turn it over to the NFL.
My response: "Why in the name of Gisele Bundchen would Brady allow NFL goons to go through his cellphone?"
Yes, but the league investigators promised to only look for messages concerning deflated footballs. Right.
The fact that Brady, the Patriots and the NFL Players Association didn't roll over and grovel at Goodell's feet is the reason the quarterback wound up with a four-game suspension rather than a $100,000 fine.
I'm convinced that Jones' pro-Elliott campaign before the NFL rendered Friday's decision is the reason the star running back has wound up with six games, rather than four or fewer.
Jones can't help himself. He's the owner that has to talk. And he basically was challenging Goodell with this over the past month:
The Cowboys had done an investigation, there was no real evidence against Elliott, and thus no reason for a suspension.
If Goodell was willing to slap down the Patriots and Kraft, his former ally, he really could show his might by giving a kick to the ear hole to the Cowboys and Jones, who only last weekend was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his important role in the league's money mongering.
Jones was described as "furious" over Goodell's decision.
Yeah, well, Bockwinkel used to get furious with El-Kaisy's decisions in the ring, too, and that only made the Sheik more power mad.
My favorite justification from the league's media lackeys and hard-core fans when Goodell soars above the legal process with these decisions is this:
Playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right.
Actually, players such as Ezekiel Elliott have the right to wind up with artificial hips, knees and shoulders, and with a fair chance at brain damage as they play for 20 percent of what they should be making, and while doing so allow the owners the privilege of making billions.
Jones (Nick) vs. Goodell (The Sheik). I can't figure out which evil to root for in this one.
Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. • firstname.lastname@example.org