(Pictured: Don Griffin of the San Francisco 49ers returns a fumble 99 yards for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears on December 23, 1991.)
December 23, 1991, was a Monday. After an ice storm hit portions of the country on Friday and rainstorms brought severe flooding to Texas, the weather for Christmas week looks generally pleasant. Today, the United States and other nations agree to recognize Russia as the successor to the Soviet Union following the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States on Saturday. Russia will take the Soviet Union’s seat on the U.N. Security Council, unless one of the other council nations exercises its veto power. The U.S. will recognize the independence of all 12 of the newly independent states and will establish diplomatic relations with five of them. Also today, Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev met with Russian president Boris Yeltsin to discuss the transfer of power. Columnist and TV commentator Pat Buchanan, who is challenging President George Bush for the 1992 Republican nomination, tells reporters today that it’s not the government’s job to help the homeless, and that they should be thrown in jail for vagrancy. He also suggests that multiculturalism and illegal immigration are undermining the fabric of American society, and that he would fortify the entire U.S./Mexican border with a combination of fencing and trenching. A new poll of New Hampshire voters today shows that Buchanan trails Bush by a margin of 58 percent to 30 percent. On the Democratic side, former Massachusetts senator Paul Tsongas is the choice of 25 percent of likely voters; Arkansas governor Bill Clinton is second with 17 percent. The crowded Democratic field has solidified somewhat now that New York governor Mario Cuomo has announced he will not seek the party’s presidential nomination.
Yesterday, after beating the Minnesota Vikings 27-7 to end their season with a record of 4-and-12, the Green Bay Packers fired coach Lindy Infante. Packers GM Ron Wolf wants to hire former New York Giants coach Bill Parcells and is willing to pay his hefty asking price of $1 million per season. The NFL regular season ends tonight. The Chicago Bears, who can clinch a division title and a first-round bye in the playoffs with a win, are instead blown out by San Francisco 52-14.
On network TV tonight, ABC precedes Monday Night Football with MacGyver. CBS presents Evening Shade, Major Dad, Murphy Brown, Designing Women, and Northern Exposure. NBC devotes all of primetime to The Sound of Music. Movies playing in theaters include JFK, The Last Boy Scout, The Addams Family, Father of the Bride, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Hook, and Bugsy.
In Madison, Wisconsin, radio station Q106 is seeking Elvis impersonators for its fourth annual Elvis Birthday Bash on January 4. Magic 98 advertises “30 Hours of Christmas,” from 1PM tomorrow through 7PM Christmas night. On the Billboard Hot 100, “Black or White” by Michael Jackson and “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Boyz II Men hold at #1 and #2. Only one song is new in the Top 10: “Too Legit to Quit” by Hammer, at #9. (The former MC Hammer is also at #20 with “Addams Groove.”) The biggest mover within the Top 40 is “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” by George Michael and Elton John, up to #19 from #34, although “Diamonds and Pearls” by Prince blasts into the 40 at #30 from #49 the week before. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana is up six spots to #17; “Mysterious Ways” by U2 is up seven to #26. The highest debut on the Hot 100 is “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred at #67. The #1 song on Billboard‘s Adult Contemporary chart is “Keep Coming Back” by Richard Marx. The #1 album is Michael Jackson’s Dangerous.
Perspective From the Present: Bill Parcells turned down the Packers’ offer. Pat Buchanan’s brand of cruelty and racism eventually swallowed the Republican party whole. On December 23, 1991, Ann and I flew to Toronto for a quick visit with her parents, a trip I did not want to make and complained about for days beforehand. Her mother gave us two gifts: a handwritten book of Ann’s favorite family recipes and an elaborate Christmas cross-stitch dated 1991. On Christmas Day, we flew home with those gifts tucked into our luggage, not knowing as we left her parents on the jetway that it was the last time we would see Ann’s mother, who died suddenly the next March.
My in-laws were planning a move to Florida in 1992, and surely I would have much preferred we visit them there the next year. But “next year,” as we learned in 1992 and have never forgotten, is guaranteed to no one.