Some Thank Yous and More on Ronnie Knox

I started this blog February 27, 2008. I’ve actually had more people drop by or stumble in than I expected, and I’d like to say thank you to a few folks, as well as adding a little more information on Ronnie Knox, the Proust-reading football player I talked about in the previous post for April 1.

The first email I got (via the link near the top right) was from Jamie, who had come across The Perfect Italian Woman after it had triggered a Google alert she’d set up for any web pages relevant to a book she was writing on French women. She enjoyed the piece and was generous in her compliments. Thank you, Jamie, for the encouragement.

That was just one example of the funny ways people can end up here. The story of my unusual free-lance physics job Why Gamble? Hire a Physicist lured people that had made Google searches on “Lawrence Berkeley Lab salary negotiation,” “physicists for hire,” and “postdoc scientist.” I don’t know how long they stuck around since I suspect they had something more practical in mind, but it’s interesting to see the unexpected directions people are coming from.

The biggest spikes in visitors to the blog occurred after I posted the long accounts of my troubles installing Windows Vista on my MacBook Pro using Apple’s Boot Camp. Most of the traffic was due to the MacSurfer’s Headline News site’s having linked to the posts. It’s nice to be able to measure traffic in the hundreds instead of in single or double digits. I still get people coming by every day to check those computer-related posts out, which is not too surprising since I dealt with a number of issues that can come up when you’re installing Vista on a Mac.

I am grateful to two Proust-related bloggers that have made less ephemeral links to the Ronnie Knox, Marcel Proust, and I post along with appreciative comments. These are Antonia of The Laws of Night and Honey and Judy of Reading Proust in Foxborough. I’ve also had an enjoyable email exchange with John of the blog Thinking It Through.

Now to more on Ronnie Knox. I found some Google excerpts from a book published in 2003 called Beyond the Xs and Os: My Thirty Years in the NFL, an as-told-to book by the pro football coach, Jim Hanifan, who had been a teammate of Ronnie’s at UC Berkeley. Jim was a junior when Ronnie was a freshman. About Ronnie’s ability he has this to say:

Ronnie was a superbly talented football player. If his old man had not fouled him up, everyone in the country, even today, would know who Ronnie Knox was. That’s how good a player he was and could have been.

Hanifan fills in some painful details of the way Ronnie’s stepfather caused problems with every coach Ronnie had. I’ll just move on to later in the narrative, which finds Ronnie starring at football in Toronto and, according to Hanifan, also starring on a weekly television show. He provides a new slant on Ronnie’s decision to quit football.

Without any warning Ronnie just walked off the field one day and quit football. He had gotten serious with a young lady, and the two of them took off and went to Mexico.

Then, after telling of his regret at having years later missed a phone call from Ronnie, who never called back, Hanifan continues.

I heard he ended up living in Los Angeles and was homeless when he died a few years ago. I thought the world of him, and it hurts to see him gone.

I’d like to think that Hanifan might have just heard a false rumor of Ronnie’s death, but this sounds pretty definitive. I’m glad to hear how highly Hanifan thought of Ronnie, but it somehow makes me all the sadder. I’d still like to see an obituary or something just to be sure he’s really dead and possibly to fill in a little more of his last forty years. A strangely tragic figure, that Ronnie Knox.

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