I watched the playoffs yesterday. The two teams I was rooting for, Pittsburgh and
Green Bay, won. And yet, there were moments when I was cheering for the other guys. I blame my fickle behavior on the three men who taught me about football.
The first two men were my father and grandfather. While growing up, our family would pack up and drive the couple of hours to my paternal grandparents’ house about every other weekend. Mom and Grandma would spend Sundays nattering in the kitchen, my sister, older than me and into her teenage angst, would sulk from room to room, while I would escape to the TV room where Dad and Grandpa watched football.
Both were gentlemen fans. They liked clean, evenly matched games. Dad, once a high school and college athlete, appreciated individual efforts and plays irregardless of his team allegiance. Grandpa knew every rule of the game and enjoyed the riskiest plays the most. The only team they consistently rooted for were the Steelers. That was Grandpa’s doing – after all, he had to root for someone after the Canton Bulldogs folded. I grew up cheering for Mean Joe Greene, Franco, Too Tall, White, Csonka, Long, and my all time favorite player, Lyle Alzado (I even have his throw back jersey. The only one I own.).
The third man to teach me football was John Madden. During the years he was an announcer, I, along with everyone else who listened to him, developed a true affection for the game and the players. His anecdotes and insights were both informative and enjoyable. Dull game? Don’t worry. John is getting bored too. Any minute now he will launch into a very entertaining story or go off on a tangent that will make missing the game on the other station worthwhile. I still miss him in the booth.
So. Yesterday, I rooted for the Steelers but preferred the second half when the Jets came out fighting. And I truly admired Caleb Hanie, the Bears third string quarterback, for very nearly winning the game. But BJ Raji’s interception and his trundling into the end zone, (no doubt causing seismographs everywhere to bounce), was – for me – the most memorable play of the day.
Still, I would like to see the Patriots go to the Super Bowl. Okay, maybe next year.