Reed Between the Lines

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Lou Reed’s musical genius is known. But what of his reputation as an NFL prophet? I’m not talking about his weekly picks, I’m talking about how in the 1960s, Lou Reed had a vision of a football miracle, and embedded his foreknowledge in song.

“When I’m rushing on my run/And I feel just like Jesus’ son”—do not even try to tell me this isn’t about Tim Tebow. Sure, the song may be called “Heroin”, but Reed was clearly channeling some heavy Tebow shit, all the way back in 1964. “Heroin” was eventually released on the Velvets’ debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, in 1967. Exactly one year later, Tim Tebow’s parents, Pamela Elaine Pemberton and Robert Ramsey Tebow, would meet as students on the University of Florida campus. Coincidence?

Track 1, “Sunday Morning.” Uh huh. Track 5, “Run, Run, Run.” You see where I’m going with this. Track 4, “Venus in Furs.” You have to get a little creative here, but just replace “Severin” with “Tebow”—“Severin, Severin, speak so slightly/Severin, down on your bended knee.” And the pièce de résistance, Track 2, “I’m Waiting for the Man”: “He's never early, he's always late/First thing you learn is that you always gotta wait.” This is incontrovertible evidence.

But why would the cosmopolitan, decadent Lou Reed be the herald of Tebow? Why not all-American, Gainesville-born, Tom Petty and his “Runnin’ Down a Dream”? Sure, that makes more sense, but who are we to backseat-drive on God? Anyway, “Runnin’” is more of an NBA tune, used as the Finals theme song in both 2006 and 2008.

Here’s the diff: Lou Reed seems like there’s some football hidden in him. His name, Lou Reed, sounds like the name of a football coach—you can imagine a trophy or a plaque named after him. And as he’s aged, the weather-beaten sports coach inside has slowly revealed itself. His face reflects a combination of Vince Lombardi’s knowing gaze and Larry Brown’s mirthless grimace.

So where does Lou Reed’s parlor trick leave us? Track 3 of The Velvet Underground & Nico is “Femme Fatale,” ostensibly about Warhol “It Girl” Edie Sedgwick: “Here she comes, you better watch your step/She’s going to break your heart in two, it’s true.” This feels pretty straightforward, certainly to Steelers fans (also, in the 1960s, it was standard to refer to NFL QBs with feminine pronouns, like ships). But not so fast, Broncos fans—we all know what comes next. “Cause everybody knows/The things she does to please/She’s just a little tease.” Tebow slips on the banana peel come Saturday in Foxboro.

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"We saw your Cowboys today, and they never let Philadelphia even have the ball for a minute. You know, it was 42 to 7 by the half. It was ridiculous. I mean, you should give the other guy just a little chance. In football, anyway."

-Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground, Live, Vol. 1