Baseball is the sport I was raised with. I was around people who followed football, but it wasn’t followed in the home I grew up in.
The team I followed in childhood was the New York Jets. Ah, the days of Joe Namath. I can name some of the players from the era. Matt Snell, Emerson Boozer, George Sauer. How people were outraged when Joe Namath predicted Super Bowl victory over the Baltimore Colts AND delivered. (New York picked on Baltimore that year, the Mets defeated the Orioles in five games in the World Series).
In Brooklyn, if you were a Giants fan, you talked about it in whispers. (There was one Giants fan in my Fifth Grade class). How different things are today.
I wanted a Jets jersey of course. I wanted number 12, which was Joe Namath’s jersey. I got a quarterbacks jersey from my Dad, but not Joe’s. It was backup quarterback Al Woodall‘s. Why you ask? Well, like me today, Dad marched to the beat of a different drummer. Al Woodall wore number 18. In Jewish tradition 18 is a lucky number, because when you use Hebrew letters to spell out the number 18, it comes out as L’Chaim, translated into English as “to life.” A nice sentiment, but it did not help me in the wider world of childhood lol! Still, I had the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders poster on my wall.
How soon they break up with their football girlfriends… By college I found a new team. The Washington Redskins. My beloved former boss and friend, Susi Baldwin, drew me into her Redskins web. (If I hadn’t been accepted to graduate school, I would have applied to Close Up and if hired, moved to Washington).
I lived in Virginia at one point in the ’80’s so the Redskins were my team.
Having lived in Boston, I paid attention to the Patriots. I paid more attention to the Patriots in 2001. Having watched the World Trade Center destroyed from a New Jersey cliff side, all I could think of is the following: Paul McCartney was the half time entertainment and he was in the broadcast booth before the game and said, “Wouldn’t it be ironic if a team called Patriots won, after what happened?” So, I joined my New England friends and family and paid more attention the the Pats.
The Patriots were terrible for most of their history. It was nice to see the Patriots finally improve.
Now I am older. I will withhold judgement on the wiser. Life has given me enough knocks and on a philosophical level, I found a new team. I still follow the Pats, but there is now a second football girlfriend. (This one would be a pretty rough girlfriend). The Green Bay Packers.
How in the world does a New York City native adopt the Packers, unless you are Vince Lombardi and coach them? (I’m reading David Maraniss’ book, When Pride Still Mattered at the moment).
When I was young, I watched the famous Ice Bowl game against the Cowboys at Lambeau Field. Life has given me enough hard knocks to make me admire the Packers. Heck, we played tackle football in the street in blizzards. American Football is meant for cold weather, snow, hardship, grind it out on the ground.
I know a fair number of Packers fans. When I told my friend Carolyn, I adopted the Packers, she said “Welcome to the club. This is the team that separates the men from the boys.” Because of my friend Tereza, I have a spot for the Philadelphia Eagles as well.
Then there is College Football. College Football isn’t a big deal in New York City, but I have a college team because of my favorite cousin Yona McNish. That team is the University of Alabama. The Crimson Tide, Roll Tide Roll.
My great aunt sold the store before I could, but I wanted to spend my summers in Montgomery, Alabama working in their yarn store.
Living in Tucson, I follow Univ. of Arizona, but if they ever play Bama, Bama comes first. Blood is thicker than water, and thanks to attending Moonlight and Magnolias, the conference of Georgia Romance Writers, I now have many Alabama friends. Yes, Alabama is my college team. Last Saturday, I watched them defeat Ole Miss.
So that’s my American Football story and I am sticking to it!
- Bear Bryant and Joe Namath made the Tide roll (dailyherald.com)