Last August, driving back to Arkansas after taking our son to college, I blinked back tears and searched for what would provide comfort in the next few months. And I found it. Or thought I had found it. It was going to be football.
I love football. I am not a rabid, frothing at the mouth fan, but I adore the game and get extremely involved. My high school boyfriend had been a football player so I had watched him play, or at least I knew the word “safety” was more than about precaution. I became a fan when I was in graduate school. I was divorced and the weekends would yawn in front of me with only studying to do. So I began watching the Dallas Cowboys. It was the early 90’s. They had been 1 and 15 in 1989, but had Troy Aikman as quarterback , Michael Irvin at running back, Daryl Johnston as fullback, and had just drafted Emmitt Smith. They were emerging as a great team. I figured we were in about the same place. I was 0 for 2 as far as marriage went and was trying to pull my life together. We were partners in my mind although obviously they didn’t even know I existed.
So my teams this year were the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Dallas Cowboys. Some of you at this point do not need to read on to understand my plight. However I shall carry on.
The Razorbacks were supposed to have a fantastic season but lost Bobby Petrino, their coach, and had a 4-8 season, the worst in decades. I am not going to rag on a college team. The importance of a skillful head coach became woefully apparent.
And my Cowboys? Countless false starts, fumbled balls, missed tackles, huge losses due to injury and a few interceptions later, they missed the playoffs. To the Redskins and RG III. They were within three when Romo threw an interception. That hurt. Our season had had so many near wins.
It was at that point that I realized that I really cared more about winning for them than I did for me. These guys that I don’t even know (although I did meet Emmitt one time, see above picture…), I wanted the win for them. For Tony and Jason and Demarcus. It feels like a mother-thing really. Like I know they are hurting when they lose and don’t want them to and I feel helpless. There is something about watching them play week after week and year after year… there is some kind of bond. I just want them to do well. They are “my boys”. Maybe that’s what being a fan is. Don’t get me wrong – I can get mad. I yell and scream with the best of them when there are mistakes made. But I guess forgiveness comes quickly for me.
So thank the good Lord for my son’s college team – the Vanderbilt Commodores! They had a fantastic season and won their bowl game yesterday. Anchor Down! I really like their new head coach and will watch with growing fervor.
And today, New Year’s Day, the TV will be on all day. I always pray no one gets badly injured – that is of course a significant problem in the game. But the teams have won the right to battle it out and battle they will. I guess my beloved Razorbacks and Cowboys will be watching along with me. Wish I could have them over and feed them all some chili and black-eyed pea salsa, just to comfort them a little and wish them well.
And the Dallas Cowboys are STILL and will FOREVER BE America’s Team!!!! Signed, a true fan.
p.s. I just noticed to the right that the tags “Dallas Cowboys” and “Death at the Holidays” are side by side… hmmm….