By Frankie O
That’s what it’s about this week, right? Everything connected with the biggest game of the year has to match up in size or risk being discarded in the trash heap. Everything, and I mean everything, is up for public consumption.
Honestly, why else would I have numerous discussions about deer antler spray at the bar this week and actually be able to understand the conversation?
Just wondering, but who figured out the possible benefits of the mounds growing from a deer’s head? I mean really. It reminds me of this one time I was at a party, and the discussion, for whatever reason, probably alcohol, got around to things people could do with body parts to annoy or shock people. (OK, a lot of alcohol!) At the time, I was fairly proficient at the act of clapping with one hand. Seriously. This annoyed the young lady that I was demonstrating my special “talent” to so much that she called over her brother. Uh, oh. Once again, I’ve gone too far! When he arrived next to me, she told him to “Do it!” Those were her exact words. At this point, he looks at me, smiles, then proceeds to stick his hand down his throat and pull his tonsils to about 2 inches outside of his mouth. What?! After being repulsed, I conceded defeat. Well played, sir. Upon gathering myself, my only response was, “How did you learn you could do that? Is it an inherited trait? A family tradition??” Thirty years later and I can still see it, and it still makes me feel uncomfortable
Anyway, the week is just a lot of noise to me, especially when I don’t have a particular rooting interest.
The brothers Harbaugh are a great story, but ultimately a sad one. One of them is going to lose and I can’t imagine seeing their brother win is going to lessen the sting. It reminds me of the Blackhawk-Flyers Stanley Cup finals. Having the Hawks end the Flyers' dream run only made it worse for me since I’m only reminded of it every other day. The only way to end that is for the Flyers to get back and win it and it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen any time soon. That’s why they say you have to take advantage of the opportunity when you get it. A return trip is no guarantee. One of the Harbaughs is about to find that out. The longest time isn’t the 2-weeks before the game. It’s the rest of your life afterwards.
And remind me when Ray Lewis became a deity. Is anyone else playing in the game?
I can admit that he is charismatic, a fierce competitor and one of the best linebackers I have ever watched. BUT, everything he is, or will accomplish will always be clouded by the events of 13 years ago outside of a night club in Atlanta after Super Bowl XXXIV. Two men were stabbed to death and Lewis was arrested and charged with their murders. That he reached a plea deal and settled civil suits with the victims’ families has never changed the minds of those in the court of public opinion. Many, myself included, believe he has never been close to being completely honest about what he knows about that night. Will the truth set you free, or put you behind bars?
But, as always, the Super Bowl will remind me of the timeline of my passion for football. My first memories are of Super Bowl IV, ironically the first one played in New Orleans. By Super Bowl V, I was completely locked in. Locked in on a journey that would alternately thrill me and at the same time leave a gaping hole in my sports fanship, that due to the exploits of my Philadelphia Eagles. (I know, everyone is telling me I have to see “Silver Linings Playbook,” but then again I’ve lived it. Sounds like a good rental.) Since number V, I can remember every game and where I watched them. Every one presented a unique experience, even in spite of having to work during the game for all but a handful since XVI, the constant being that the Eagles haven’t won. Do I sound bitter?
The weeks preceding the Eagles’ two trips were as much fun as I can remember having, in a sports context. The first were back home, surrounded by other Eagle psychos and the next were spent here in Chicago, where I was the only one in my house who cared. No matter. If you have a team in the game, two weeks of hope are not a dangerous thing, but rather an exhilarating one. Nothing can bother you. Until the game, that is. Then your world comes crashing down and that feeling of hope is gone forever. FOREVER! It’s made it so that while I always enjoy the game, there’s always a part of me disconnected since I don’t necessarily care who wins. Sure there were times I had a “rooting” interest or was a “hater” rooting against someone, but even when those worked out for me, there was no joy.
Hopefully, this one will be a little different. Well actually, I already know it will be.
That’s because my son, who is exactly the age I was during that fateful Super Bowl V, has football fever. And not to be the pot calling the kettle black, but I think he might have issues. I have never seen someone so obsessed. And get this, he can root for anyone. No baggage! Sure he wants the Bears or Eagles to win, but if not he can find a team or player he likes.
I had a hurdle I had to cross with him on this. Like any young fan, he likes jerseys. As he grew up, he has had no shortage of Philly and Chicago ones for all of the teams. But this year, after getting a bunch of cash for Christmas, it was burning a hole in his pocket and who was I to say no when he wanted to spend it on football jerseys? When he came home with a Peyton Manning Colts jersey, it was: Nice! Old school. Nothing wrong with that, not to mention it was on clearance! But then one day while I was at work he went out with his mother and came home with three more: Drew Brees. Awesome. Cam Newton. Young star. And what? A Tom Brady jersey? Tom Brady? In my house? What’s next, Uggs??
But I’m so excited to have co-conspirator in the house I don’t want to kill the buzz, so I had to eat it. Not really happy about it, but you know what, there will be plenty of time to explain what kind of a transgression that was much later. Who knows, at some point he might figure it out on his own.
But the point is, he’s become a fan and he’s in the best part of the process. As he is being courted, it wouldn’t be right for me to interfere.
As I watch, and as I think back to my earliest memories, I remember how fun it was, before the pain.
My parents got me plenty of books and magazines and I couldn’t get enough. I read about the history of the game and cut out enough pictures to cover the walls of my bedroom three times over. The fun part being that only a small portion of these pictures where of Eagles. One of my favorites was of Gale Sayers running back a punt for a score during his epic six-touchdown game. That is a great memory.
So it was fun for me as I bought my papers on my way to work on Wednesday night to also buy a Super Bowl XLVII program for the one who hasn’t fallen too far. I was so excited for him that I even got up early to see his reaction. It was a lack of sleep that was well worth it. Before it was time to go to school he had gone cover-to-cover through all 264 pages and was quizzing me about prior games. Of course it was safely secured in his backpack as he was off to class. I went back to bed with a smile. (The tooth fairy also visited my youngest, so it was a very joyous morning in the O household, not a common thing during the school year.)
So in a game that I thought I had no rooting interest in, I now have one. The boy is way into Colin Kaepernick, so much so that his will be the next jersey making its way into a rapidly-growing collection. The cynic in me is jealous to think of San Francisco having a football title to go with the two in the last three years of their baseball team or how nauseating watching Ray Lewis after a victory will be, but fortunately, it’s become about something more than that to me.
So for the two of us, this will be a Super Bowl we remember for very different reasons.
I’m very excited for the journey he is about to take, I hope it’s a lot of fun. I know it will be fun for me to watch. And if he starts off having the team he is rooting for suffering a defeat, well that’s something I can handle. Been there, done that. It’s a family tradition.
49ers 28 Ravens 27 (I can only hope!)