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Like Mark Jenkins (“Remember the Facts,” 9/15), I remember the T.C. Williams Titans football team of the 1971-1972 school year. Even though I was only a freshman that year, I remember the team perhaps even a bit better than Jenkins, because I did not find it a contradiction to attend both the anti-Vietnam War rallies on the Mall and Titans football games.
The 1971-1972 Titans were indeed a magnificent football teamprobably as good as a high school football team can ever getbut they were only a football team. Certainly the student body took pride in that undefeated and nearly un-scored-upon season, but nobody really believed all the hooey (current at that time, too) about the football team’s “bringing the school together.” Integration worked in the Alexandria school system not because of the success of a football team but because of tolerance and good will on the part of an affluent and socially sophisticated urban community.
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Certainly at Hammond High School (the previously all-white high school that, along with George Washington High School, became the 9th and 10th grades of T.C. Williamsthe junior varsity) we did have racial disturbances, including KKK and American Nazi Party pickets, and some black and white kids with chips on their collective shoulders, but these groups constituted the lunatic fringe and, once ignored by the “town and gown” mainstream, quietly slithered back under the rocks from whence they had emerged.
Unlike Jenkins, I did know Gerry Bertier before his car crash. We were both on the 1970-1971 Hammond High School track team (Northern Virginia regional champions). I was in eighth grade at the time, and without a doubt Gerry was something of a bully. He was probably something of a drinker, too. That year, after a much-publicized athletic-team drinking scandal at Hammond, somebody even painted over the enormous “Home of the Admirals” on the side of the building with a more appropriate “Home of the Alcoholics.”
I don’t think anybody knows the exact circumstances of Gerry Bertier’s postseason car crash and whether alcohol was involved. Nevertheless, a linebacker like Gerry hardly seems a likely choice to be beatified by Disneybut we’re talking a Hollywood mass-appeal film here, not a documentary.
Even if it is far from cinéma vérité (as it seems to be), I’m looking forward to seeing the movie when it does come out. (I’m not entitled to preview it like Jenkins.) Heck, that was “our team.”