A pleasant good evening everybody, and welcome to Flyers hockey.
I began watching hockey religiously during the lockout-shortened season in 1994-95. Eric Lindros was the top young player in the game, the orange and black were returning to the playoffs after a 5 year break, and a lot of the games were on Prism. Jim Jackson was pretty much starting out his career as the play by play man for the Flyers, as the great Gene Hart was finishing his career up. JJ was partnered with Gary Dornhoefer then, and the two made a pretty good team.
Through the years, players have changed, broadcast deals changed, color commentators have changed, coaches have changed, the building has changed, but Jim Jackson has remained. And throughout the years, he was easily recognizable because of his signature mustache. Until this past season, when he sheared it off in the name of charity. He had the ‘stache’ so long that his wife and children had NEVER seen him clean shaven. Legend had it that JJ;s source of power came from his facial hair, but lucky for us, that proved to be just a tall tale.
In fact, maybe it was just the opposite. Maybe, by letting the world see his upper lip, he finally exorcised the Jackson jinx. There was once a time that if he spoke of any streak that was in the Flyers favor, something was sure to happen to end that streak. Goal scoring droughts, losing streaks, and many others, all came to die once JJ pointed them out. This past regular season was an up and down one for the Flyers, but the playoffs were much better than in recent years.
As Flyers fans, we’re lucky to have a guy like JJ. He doesn’t have any annoying tag line that he forces upon us every time a goal is scored. He’s not overly obnoxious, loud, or rude when making his calls. He’s just a genuine guy, who loves calling the games, adds some life and flavor, while quietly raking in daytime Emmy awards. By my unofficial count, JJ has approximately 300, all of which are well deserved. Good luck finding a Flyers fan that doesn’t love JJ. Just about the only bad thing about a deep playoff run is that national broadcasters take over, and we don’t get to hear JJ call the games.
When the Phillies won the World Series a few seasons ago, it was even more special to hear Harry Kalas call the final moments. No, JJ isn’t as legendary as Harry, and maybe he never will be; but in this town, by the time he’s old and gray, he might be loved just the same.
One final thought about the mustache: rumor has it that JJ will be sporting a goatee once the season rolls around.
Thanks for reading!
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