Fox News host and self-described “investigative historian” Bill O’Reilly is plainly a man of parts — whether made-up or real. With that in mind, allow me to retell a story that I related to readers of American Spectator readers some time ago. The story takes on new pertinence given the outrageous fabrications that are apparently contained in his best-selling new book Killing Reagan, which include the allegation that Ronald Reagan was gaga through most of his presidency — often watching “soap operas all day long” in his private quarters on the second floor of the White House.
A good friend of mine came to know O’Reilly in the early 1970s, when both of them were working at WPLG Channel 10 in Miami — O’Reilly as an intern and my friend as the television station’s back-up anchor.
As loud then as he is now, O’Reilly boasted that he could kick a football from his own end zone to the other team’s 40 yard line. Not taking the claim seriously — indeed, thinking it was uproariously funny coming from the large but seemingly clumsy intern — my friend (a star quarterback in high school) decided to call his bluff.
“Hell, Bill,” he told him, “if you can do that, I can get you a try-out with the Miami Dolphins. I’m going to introduce you to Don Shula. Boy, is he going to be excited to see someone who can kick a football more than 60 yards.”
Coach Shula — who won Super Bowls in 1972 and 1973 with the Dolphins — had a weekly show at the station and used to drop by the news room. So there was no doubt that my friend could broker a meeting and a possible try-out.
But then O’Reilly got cold feet — or a cold foot.
“The problem is I don’t have any hang time,” he revealed. Did he leap sideways into the air to scissors-kick the football — as world-class soccer players will sometimes do in rifling back a long kick that has not yet touched the ground?
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” my friend persisted. “If you can kick a football that far, they can find people who are fast enough to provide coverage.”
But O’Reilly — who acquired the name around the station of “Thunder Foot” — would not be persuaded.
Fantasy football’s loss has been fantasy history’s gain.