I love football. And, this is the big week.
It is particularly big for me since my home team is playing. Well, my “other home”, New England. My love for the Patriots is no big surprise to my Twitter followers. But, many here in Houston, Texas just don’t understand. Also, it makes sense for me to cheer for a state in which we pay property taxes and will pay a total of 4 Boston universities/college tuitions.
I have been watching football as long as I can remember because my dad watched football. When I was 8, I started drill team. Until I was 20 years old, there wasn’t a football season that went by that I wasn’t dancing at a half-time show somewhere in Texas.
I still remember the head coach of our local youth football team, facing 65 little girls, explaining football fundamentals to us, just so we would know why we were showing up every Saturday morning, to sit in the bleachers in our sparkly uniforms and cheer on our “Space Bandits”. I was 10. I knew all of the players, some were my neighbors, so it was easy to watch and cheer on my fellow classmates.
If you grew up in Houston during “Luv Ya’ Blue”, then you remember how we all had our hearts broken as our Houston Oilers fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1978…and again in 1979. I can still remember complaining to my dad that it was so “unfair” that we had to play in Pittsburgh with all of those cheering fans waving their yellow towels. That is when I learned about home field advantage.
My husband isn’t a big football fan, but he puts up with me as I yell at the TV every week in the fall. I only seasoned my kids with the big sporting events…Super Bowl, NBA Houston Rockets “Repeat”, the World Series, the Olympics…as they were growing up, but their own childhoods were too busy to really keep up with any regularity. But, still, I couldn’t believe it when Houston lost the Oilers in 1997. What was a Sunday without the background white noise of a distant stadium filled with muffled cheers and ref whistles? (Larkin, don’t EVEN say golf!)
Enter Drew Blesdoe and the 1997 New England Patriots. (Yes, I cheered for them before Tom Brady. So tread lightly before injecting some ‘UGG Model’ joke here.) I happened to see the game where they, too, fell to the Steelers’ “Iron Curtain” for the AFC divisional title. Those hideous “Terrible Towels” again.
When Jordan went to Boston for college in 2008, she was already steeped in “Patriot Nation”. But, I had no idea how the love of ALL sports would take hold of her in that perfect Boston breeding ground for sports tradition and loyalty. I just sat back and watched like a proud dad…I mean, mom.
I don’t need to waste your time getting you up to speed on what the Pats have accomplished in the past decade with Belichick and Brady. Let me just say, it has been awesome. And, okay, okay. Tom Brady is beautiful.
During the holidays, my stepdaughter Nicole and her recently engaged friends, Dorian and Griffin, were visiting from Austin. I was talking about my love of the game with this young man and he begged me to “please explain this to her!” gesturing towards his beautiful fiancee. So here you go, Griff. Consider it a pre-wedding gift.
To Dorian and all women who feel like the NFL is competing for your attention on Sundays, (and Monday night, and Thursday night) I would just say, go with it. There is so much more than just a bunch of guys tackling each other. There is sportsmanship, community building of cities large and small; there is a human story behind each one of those players, out on the field or on the sidelines. And, we all have a story.
That is what we are watching. That is what I am watching.
That, and Tom Brady.