EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

November 24, 2012

Anatomy of a (bad) prediction

The day Andover -- and Burt -- lost big

There are a few people in North Andover who still remember my column on Nov. 20, 1987.

OK, maybe the number is more like 10,000.

I predicted the North Andover High football team would get croaked by Andover High in the rivalry renewal after a 13-year hiatus.

I wrote it in black and white, with my ugly (albeit younger) mug shot with the column.

It wasn’t just the prediction that riled a lot of people. It was the fact that I got a tad nasty too, comparing this matchup to Hulk Hogan (Andover) vs. Mr. Rodgers (North Andover).

But I have to tell the rest of the story:

A few days before the big game — both teams were 6-1 and Super Bowl contenders in their respective divisions — ex-Eagle-Tribune sportswriter Paul Lafond made a statement in the newsroom.

“North Andover is going to beat Andover!” he said emphatically.

While Paul had been at the newspaper a decade longer than I had been, I didn’t think he was being objective with his prediction. He was born and raised in North Andover, starring on the basketball team.

Anyway, he got me going.

“They have no chance,” I shouted. “Paul, it’s not going to be close. John Perry will score four touchdowns ... North Andover isn’t that good ... ”

After I finished my rant, Paul said, “Write it!”

It was a dare, or at least I took it that way. I remember thinking about it for about 30 seconds while sitting next to the legendary Joe Murphy in our newsroom before saying, “OK, I will.”

I admit I got a little too condescending for a column about high school athletes. But it was more written out of satire and humor. I also figured there was no way I would be wrong.

Well, the column got a lot of play in North Andover. A few locals from town saw me and were not happy. But I made off like I didn’t care.

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