We are human animals and begin life helpless, dependent souls simply unable to survive alone. We require caretakers that help meet our physiological as well as emotional needs. It’s also important for us to receive assistance in satisfying safety and/or security needs. When the physiological and safety needs are being met, we then have the capacity in developing belongingness, love and esteem needs. Albert Maslow added that other need states are acquired that are established for strength, achievement, adequacy, mastery and competence, as well as motivation for reputation or prestige, status, dominance, recognition, attention, importance or appreciation. There’s agreement by the Freudians and others that hypothesize about the wish to be valued, the striving for power, superiority, perfection. We also have to resolve our anxiety associated with feelings of aloneness and insignificance. This occurs not in isolation, but in relationship with others. As a result, the need for interpersonal relationships or affiliation comes into play.
Employing some of the above psychological concepts provide valuable insight into the dynamics of friendship. Friendship can be defined as “friendly feeling or disposition; association as friends.” The long standing union of Tom Curtis and Jim Mandich provide an illustration of these dynamics. Theory regarding friendships are as follows. We choose a friend based upon the dynamics of our ego ideal. This means we are talking about the role, significance and importance of the unconscious. In some ways, a friend becomes a supplement or complement, to what’s missing or lacking in your personality [remember, the ego ideal reduces flaws or deficits in order to attain our unrealistic drive toward perfection] in a certain way. We perceive something enviable in the object and wish to measure up, to compete, and actually to better or conquer our friend. These original impulses energize us and the rivalry begins. Usually, we pick a person that is roughly equal to us in achievement either on a physical or intellectual plane or both. These initial unconscious impulses are overcome and change into positive emotions. Thus, we actually help our friend, come together and join him in our goals and activities. When or if a third party foe enters the picture, our impulse to fight arise and we join forces and unify as one as two individuals are better than one in combat or competition. In other words, a third-party foe can easily be ganged up upon by the two friends. Now, there’s a common enemy to combat.
Tom and Jim’s friendship developed at an early age. Tom was born and reared Aurora, Ohio roughly 23 miles from Cleveland while Jim came from the nearby community of Solon, Ohio. Both boys, although not quite neighbors, played and excelled at sports. Tom loved baseball, football and basketball. Jim was no slouch in football and basketball. It wasn’t till high school that the two boys actually met. They collided on various athletic playing fields, at evening parties and other afterschool events. These 15 or so-year-olds first clashed horns at a track competition between the two schools. Although Jim was taller and heavier, Tom was faster and quicker. Mandich set records in the shot put and discus throw and easily beat Curtis in head-to-head competition. There was real competition between the two.
On the football field, Tom was the quarterback, and Jim a tight end. Both received honors playing football. Curtis was second team all-state quarterback, while the tight end Mandich, the All-American’s high school team was 22 – 0. Before asking Jim where he was planning to attend college, Tom assumed that the heavily recruited Jim would attend Ohio State. When he learned that Jim was attending the University of Michigan, Tom was thrilled and knew that he would have a good friend there.
While at the University of Michigan, the two football friends roomed together, partied together and played intramural basketball, during the off-season. Tom originally, a quarterback wound up playing in Coach Bump Elliott’s defensive backfield. Not bad as Curtis set the Michigan record for interceptions. That record still stands today even though Heisman winner Charles Woodson played in the defensive backfield too. Jim, played tight end and was the Wolverine team Captain.
In their senior year, they played for new Coach Bo Schembechler. At first, they strongly disliked him However, these two senior leaders eventually led the way in supporting Bo and the rest of their teammates followed their lead. The members on that 1969 football team came together and instead of ganging up and fighting, Bo Schembechler, their now united efforts joined him with unified and combined energies and the Wolverines stomped the life out of their remaining opponents. Especially against Ohio State, in that classic 1969 upset of the undefeated, NFL like Buckeyes. After the Rose Bowl game, the two friends were drafted by the NFL. Tom went to play for Baltimore Colts and Jim went to play for the Miami Dolphins.
In fact, during a preseason game, the two friends faced each other. Curtis was on the receiving team, and Mandich on the kickoff team. Jim came racing down the field yelling, screaming, and spitting as only” Mad Dog “could in the direction of his friend Tom. However, at this point, Tom was the enemy and Jim wanted to consciously destroy him by knocking him out of the Stadium. Tom knew that and did an “Olay” getting out of the way of his hard charging out of control, buddy. Those initial underlying dynamics surfaced-the competition, the fight and the desire to overcome, demolish and hurt his dear friend. All is fair on me NFL gridiron. This is where friends really fight each other football wise. It’s expected.
Off the gridiron, it’s a different story. On January 1, 1971 these two combatants watched the Michigan-USC Rose Bowl game together. Soon after, Jim invited Tom to join him on the Dolphins team bus heading to the Super Bowl in New Orleans. That invitation would not be allowed today. The next season Tom Curtis joined his body and became a Dolphin too. Of course, the two players roomed together. Their longterm, earthly friendship was terminated only as a result of Jim’s early death.
More stories about these two, are found in Bo’s Warriors-Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football.