Sunday, February 4, 2018

It's Super Bowl Sunday: We Should Talk

I love football.
I'm sure you've guessed that by now. I mean besides the books that I've written. Anyone can write a football book. In fact, I've seen football books written by people I'm not sure ever even watched a game. I've seen football books that never had a football in it. Anyone can slap a dude in pads on a cover and call it a football book. It's the in thing to do.

But, I can tell when the author enjoys the sport. I can tell when the author put some research in to the sport.

I research like crazy. I'm not an expert. I live with one. I do have that going for me. I've never been to an NFL game. One day I'd like to rectify that situation. One day I'd like to rectify that situation in Green Bay. Which is never going to happen, but it's on the bucket list. Spend a month in Ireland. See the Packers play in Green Bay. When it's still not freezing. I don't do cold.

For seven years now I've shared my love of football with my fans and followers. For seven years I've had game day watching 'parties'. That's where I live tweet my thoughts on the game and people talk back.

And for seven years I've had very little negative reaction. One time. Just one in all the seasons before this one. Just one.

I grew up around football. I grew up in a little town in Sneads, Florida. About 50 miles west of Tallahassee. Home of the Florida State Seminoles. I got to go to one game as a kid. I've marched in the FSU homecoming parade. I was a fan. Big fan. It us against the Gator fans in school. There was never any real malice, just good clean competitiveness.

My love of football goes back to before I can remember. My daddy used to take me to Sneads home games. I have been told by so many people that I would stand up and yell Go Gators every time someone scored. Didn't matter who.

I started school at Sneads Elementary but we moved to the next town over. Grand Ridge. Grand Ridge didn't have a football team. They were basketball. They had a state championship winning team for most of the time I went there. I spent seven miserable years in that school. And every chance I got, I went to a football game in Sneads and rooted for a school I didn't attend.

The summer before tenth grade I convinced my mother to let me transfer back to Sneads. I'd had seven years of being bullied and couldn't stand it anymore. I wanted to be in a marching band. I wanted to get into FSU and be in The Chiefs Marching Band. I wouldn't even have half a chance if I stayed at Grand Ridge. The only reason I got to transfer to Sneads was because they found out my brother couldn't play football anymore unless he went to a school with a football program. He graduated out of Pop Warner. And lickety split we got a transfer. I got three years of every football game played. And honest to god the best part of high school was those hours we spend traveling to away games.

Senior year, wasn't great for me. It was ugly. I lost a friend for some insane reason that never made any sense. Made another friend who used me. But hell, I used her t0o, so it didn't matter. I was lonely. I hung out with the junior football players that year. I have no idea how that happened. I wasn't dating any of them. Pretty sure one was using me as a beard. I didn't care. I got to sit with the boys at their lunch table and it pissed certain people off. They forgot I was a girl. I will never repeat the things I heard at that table. Not even 31 years later. Locker room talk, some of it yeah, some of it honest, most of it football.

I love football.

I was never much of a fan of NFL. I mean, this is the deep south, we don't have many pro teams. When I was a kid there were even less than there are now. My 'local' team was the Atlanta Falcons. If you don't know what I mean by that, it means that pro football games are broadcast by regions. This was pre-NFL pre-ESPN three network days. We always saw the Falcons whether we wanted to or not, unless they weren't playing that week. If we didn't see them, we saw Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I have never been a fan of either team. I don't even like the Atlanta Braves (baseball) for the same reason. Too much exposure.

My daddy watched football. High school, college, and pro.

And I had a super huge crush on Terry Bradshaw. Honestly, I still do. Okay, I was maybe five when I 'fell in football love' with number 12. I can't remember. I had a type even at five years old. And because of that my first NFL team was the Pittsburgh Steelers.
And I've been a fan since. But... I can't support them right now. I can't support a team that has a quarterback who got away with rape. I can't support the Bucs either for the same reason. But I've never spoken out as to why I can't and won't support the Steelers even though I do still consider myself a fan. Well there you have it. The girl was too drunk to consent. Whether she did or not, she had no memory of it. And that is rape. And he was never charged. When he's gone, I'll come back.

My second team was purely bandwagon. I watched that game where Joe Montana threw that pass to Dwight Clark to beat the Cowboys and go to the Super Bowl. I remember that game for two reasons. I hate the Cowboys. I hated the Cowboys since I was old enough to form an opinion on a team. I don't know why I started hating the Cowboys. My brother's love of the damn team made me hate them even more. We had Cowboy's drinking cups. I had to drink out of a cup with the fucking Cowboy logo on it.And I loathe Jerry Jones. But oh that game was wonderful, the underdog team came up and put those fuckers in their place and I was a fan. I remember it for a second reason, my grandmother, my father's mother, died a few days later. She'd lived with us for a couple of years. She was born in 1895. I was nine days shy of my 13th birthday when she passed. I didn't love her. She was very old. I mean very old, all of my life. She was always sick and very frail and she smelled and she dominated the television and I had to walk her to the bathroom and she left bruises on my arms from how hard she held on... all petty reasons, but I was a child. What I do remember about her that I will never forget... she was a living history book. She was born in a hole in the ground in Washington County, Kansas. Her father had fought in the Civil War. They were from Pennsylvania. Her father was a Fishel, her mother a Van Kirk. Her grandfather, my great-great grandfather was born in 1796. She moved to Florida around the age of 10 because her elderly father had tuberculous, I believe, and the humid air was thought to be better for him. I'd sit and listen to her talk about growing up before there were cars and before electricity. But I never really knew her. She didn't like to talk about herself. Sometimes I wonder if that's where my love of history came from. I didn't love her. She wasn't the cookie baking grandmotherly type, but I remember her, fondly.

Death and football.

Until a few years ago, the Super Bowl was always played around or even on my birthday. Every year the Sunday the week of my birth was always Super Bowl Sunday.

Of course we watched. Sometimes my birthday was forgotten, but there was always the Super Bowl.

I stopped watching football for many years after high school.

I was never a Green Bay fan before... and when people ask me why. Why Green Bay? The gulf coast is a long long way from Wisconsin. So why?

One answer, and one answer only.

Number 4.

You see, the thing of it is, I'm not really a fan of teams. I am a fan of players. And I live in the area that spawned Brett Favre. He played for a small Mississippi school. He shouldn't have been a household name, but he was. I followed Brett a bit through college. He was born the same year I was. It was like I was following the closest thing to a classmate as I was ever going to get. Never met him. Never went to school with him. Doesn't matter. He belongs to this whole area.

I stayed after he left because I loved the team. I followed him to Minnesota. I can't say I was happy with the Jets. I can't. I pretend that year didn't happen. I can still say I like the Vikings. But I love Green Bay. I cried when Green Bay welcomed Brett home. I cried like a damn baby. Crying now.

But, here's the thing. And this is what we have to talk about.

There's this other team.

And you hate them. You hate them so much. But I don't. I've followed them for many years. Long before the 49ers. I have followed them for whatever reason that I can never explain. There were no stars to make me root for them. I liked them when they were losing. Maybe it was the mean looking dude on their logo in the Tri-corn. Maybe I'm a sucker for red, white, and blue... but I've always followed them.

And then The Gronk happened. And they became my second team. As an adult when I talk about the teams I like and the teams I don't like, I've reluctantly let go of most of my childhood favorites. Maybe I never was a true fan. I don't have to be. I'm from an area of the country where there are no professional teams. I'll fly the Garnet and Gold in Alabama until the day I die. But I am not forced by
region to pick a pro team. And I will actively root for both teams when they play, if I follow them.

You won't find me live tweeting the Super Bowl later today for the first time since Mercy started out January 2011. Because, for the first time in seven years, I wasn't allowed to be a fan. I was attacked once by a Steelers fan for statements I made after their ugly loss to my second team. I was cussed out for existing. I learned not to hashtag my comments. I knew better. But that wasn't the problem. The problem was that I had to endure the ugly from my own followers. I politely asked a few to not make hateful remarks on my posts. I received several comments publicly and privately expressing disbelief, to disappointment, to down right anger, that I am a Patriots fan.

In seven years and two previous Super Bowl appearances and wins, I have had only one person ever in those seven years do this. Just one. I've never ever disrespected anyone's team. I've always, always given condolences and congratulations to others. Even in the course of the game when the threads got spirited, they were never mean spirited. Never. Until the end of this season.

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm a Brady fan. I didn't want to be. He made me a fan. Whatever it is that makes you hate him, I don't see it. And I'm not blind and I'm not biased. We are watching record making history every time that man plays. And every time he wins. Tomorrow there will be ugly. No matter the outcome of that game it will be ugly. It will be sore losers if they win. It will be sore winners if they lose. Either way I will congratulate the teams and turn off my television and start counting down until next season. I won't have to block anyone this year because I won't be live on facebook or twitter. And for that reason alone I thank you. The ugly surrounding football this season made me leave social media. For the first time since Mercy arrived in time to see her Packers beat the Steelers I will celebrate privately.

But here's the thing we need to talk about. The thing you may not know.

I wrote an entire book series that was inspired by three players. Bowen Murphy is half Gronk, and half Clay Matthews. And Levi Brody... well, his entire character... we'll just leave it at this...

Happy Super Bowl Sunday. I hope your team wins. Either way, congratulations, your boys are champions.



1 comment:

  1. The love of pro football never took with me. My Daddy was a rabid Dallas Cowboys fan and in 1st grade I dressed up as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader for career day. But I never loved it like I love college ball. Like you I have been a fan of certain players - not teams just the players, like Joe Montana. I have no idea what made me love him like I did, but I was a huge fan. As an adult the players I fan tend to be my Noles who moved on but still hold a special place in my heart like Jalen Ramsey and Timmy Jernigan. Timmy is the reason I'll be rooting against your team tonight for the little bit of the game I will watch. I never really knew why I wasn't a big pro ball fan until I read this blog post but you hit it, there is no regional team for us, at least there wasn't in our formative years. I guess Jacksonville would be it nowadays, but still not loving 'em. Give me some young boys just discovering life and playing for a dream and preferably wearing garnet and gold any day! GO NOLES!