The first time the national anthem was sung at the Super Bowl, it was nothing like today.

America's national anthem has had some of its all-time greatest performances at the Super Bowl.

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images.


There was Whitney, of course.

Photo by George Rose/Getty Images.

Beyoncé took a whack at it 12 years ago.

In related news, you are so unbelievably old. Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images.

Even Neil Diamond did a surprisingly solid job that one time.

Neil Diamond used to look like this. Photo by Jack Kay/Getty Images.

But who was first? Like, very first?

That would be this guy:

Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images.

Charley Pride.

He sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl VIII in 1974. Before him, at Super Bowls I-VII, the national anthem was performed by marching bands, choirs, and instrumentalists.

Not only was Pride the first solo performer to sing the anthem at the Super Bowl, he was the first black performer to achieve country music superstardom.

As a black man trying to break into one of the whitest segments of the music industry in the 1960s, Pride's career was managed — carefully.

Like many of his contemporaries (and pretty much all of his predecessors), Pride had to put up with more than his fair share of racist BS. Even some of his supporters used nasty epithets when pitching him and his music.

His first couple of recordings didn't even feature a picture of his face.

Ultimately, however, talent won out. Pride topped the country charts 36 times and has sold over 70 million albums.

Hits like "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" and "Is Anybody Going to San Antone" made Pride the biggest-selling artist for his label (RCA) since Elvis.

Pride never liked being defined by his race, despite the long odds he had to overcome to succeed in Nashville.

Pride with Trisha Yearwood, Bill Anderson, and Ricky Skaggs. Photo by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images.

In a 2006 interview, he told The Guardian, "People are so hung up on skin. They're always asking 'Why do you look like us and sound like them?' or 'Why do you look them and sound like us?'"

His rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" is notable today for how un-notable it was.

These days, performances of America's national anthem at the big game are known for soaring leaps, dazzling melodic flourishes, and notes in the ionosphere. Pride just sings the damn song.

It's pretty striking.

After making Super Bowl history on Jan. 13, 1974, Pride's career endured. He continues to tour to this day, at age 77.

Watch the rare video of Pride's groundbreaking performance below.

(The national anthem starts around 1:40 — Pride sings "America the Beautiful" first):

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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