A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 22, 2019
“If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead”

"If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead” is a saying that has been printed on many images. Newark (NJ) Evening News journalist Thomas Mackin (1919-2011) wrote in the New York (NY) Times on July 18, 1971:

“It may be true, as some imply, that ABC feared to repeat pro football because of a bill pending in Albany that says a wife who finds her husband watching three games in a row can have him declared legally dead.”

American humorist Erma Bombeck (1927-1996) wrote in her book I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression (1973):

“Men who have a thirty-six-televised-football-games-a-week-habit should be declared legally dead and their estates probated.”

Bombeck is usually credited with the “watching three games in a row” version, but it was clearly said by Mackin before Bombeck wrote her versions. “A man who watches three football games on TV in a row can be declared legally dead, Tom Mackin, the retired TV critic of the Newark News, once said at a woman’s club meeting in New Jersey” was printed in Newsday (Long Island, NY) on July 22, 1972.

[This entry includes prior research by the Quote Investigator.]


18 July 1971, New York (NY) Times, “And Now, Making Its Fourth World Premiere...” by Tom Mackin, pg. D15, col. 2:
It may be true, as some imply, that ABC feared to repeat pro football because of a bill pending in Albany that says a wife who finds her husband watching three games in a row can have him declared legally dead.

5 May 1972, Tucson (AZ) Daily Citizen, “At Wit’s End: She answers herself, too” by Erma Bombeck, pg. 20, col. 8:
(Bombeck describes situations when talking to one’s self is acceptable.—ed.)
The woman who is married to a man with a 23-televised-football-games-a-week habit. (It’s even permissible for her to dance with herself.)

22 July 1972, Newsday (Long Island, NY), “Preseason warm-up” by Marvin Kitman, pg. 67A, col. 1:
A man who watches three football games on TV in a row can be declared legally dead, Tom Mackin, the retired TV critic of the Newark News, once said at a woman’s club meeting in New Jersey. (...) But what is the law, four or five games? It must vary from state to state.

September 1972, Good Housekeeping (New York, NY), “Diary of a Sports Widow” by Erma Bombeck, pg. 66, col. 1:
I never agreed to live with a sport addict who is in a catatonic state 12 months out of every year. Actually, I am in the process of having my husband declared legally dead.

Google Books
I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression
By Erma Bombeck
New York, NY: Fawcett Crest Books
1973
Pg. 7:
Men who have a thirty-six-televised-football-games-a-week-habit should be declared legally dead and their estates probated.

17 September 1975, The Herald-news (Passaic, NJ), “Ramblin’ Around” by Mike Cleveland, pg. 29, col. 4:
Kathy was also scheduled to make selections but at the last minute she dropped out and opted to quote columnist Erma Bombeck, to wit: “Any man with a 37-hour a week football habit should be declared legally dead and his will probated.”

16 November 1975, Austin (TX) American-Statesman, “Endangered species: The humorous housewife” by Rosemary Beales, pg. G1, col. 2:
Also in her platform, she (Erma Bombeck—ed.) suggests, “Any man who watches 168 football games a week will be declared legally dead.”

27 November 1977, Sunday Independent Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA), “My Favorite Jokes” by Berl Williams, Parade magazine, pg. 18, col. 2:
There’s so much football on television now, they’re thinking of passing a law: Any man who watches three consecutive football games can be declared legally dead by his wife.

9 January 1978, Battle Creek (MI) Enquirer, “Your Opinion,” pg. A1, col. 5:
Columnist Erma Bombeck says that anyone who watches 16 consecutive quarters of football on television should be declared legally dead. Do you agree?

9 February 1989, Huntsville (AL) Times, “Working Woman: Marriages turn off when TV sets turn on” by Niki Scott, pg. 1C, col. 1:
The experts agree that many males react to both stress and depression with obsessive television watching. Erma Bombeck, on the other hand, has said that any man who watches three football games in a row should be declared legally dead.

Google Books
What Women Say about Men:
Witty observations on the male of the species

By Miniature Book Collections
Kansas City, MO: Andrews and McMeel
1993
Pg. 53:
If a man watches three football games in a row, lie should be declared legally dead.
Erma Bombeck

3 January 2001, USA Today (McLean, VA), “24 bowls, 14 days, 2 kids, 1 man TV marathon reveals more than bleary eyes” by Michael Hiestand, pg. C1:
Instead, (ABC Sports announcer Keith—ed.) Jackson quoted the late Erma Bombeck: “Any man who watches three football games in a day should be declared legally dead. Well, this is the day. Call the coroner.”

Twitter
RG
@ezedozitt21
“If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead.”
- Erma Bombeck
4:04 PM - 20 May 2019

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityRadio/Television • Wednesday, May 22, 2019 • Permalink