It was January 1988 the first time the game made me emotional… It was 17 days into the new year, I was 10 years old and my fandom for the Cleveland Browns culminated at the moment Earnest Byner (# 44) took a handoff from Bernie Kosar. I was with uber sureness the Browns were going to score the game-tying touchdown in the AFC Championship Game, but to my dismay, followed by a 10 year old tear falling at disbelief; The Fumble.
Football has made me emotional numerous times for many different and unrelated reasons but most recently in Dallas at Super Bowl XLV. The National Anthem to be exact. I heard Christina messed up the lyrics but I was in my own world reminising the first time I heard the rendition wearing a New York Football Giants uniform and didn’t even notice she messed it up.
My most gratifying memory of playing football came the first time I suited up in an NFL uniform. The game was televised on ESPN and as the National Anthem played, I realized I made a life-long dream come true. It was a personal and special accomplishment, and to this day, when I hear the National Anthem I go back to that moment in New England and get goosebumps… No matter if it’s at a high school basketball game or the Super Bowl, it’s that particular sound of the game that takes me back.
This past Sunday I had the priviledge of attending SB XLV with a profound and distinguished group of people who crossed a variety of walks of life, but came together as football fans. I truly enjoyed every conversation I was a part of leading up to the game, and I had the opportunity to make new friends with some very cool people; but when the National Anthem played and the jets flew over the stadium; It was time for reading linebackers, picking up blitzes, and recognizing cover 2 defenses. After years of football film watching, it’s just how I watch a game. Everyone around me was excited, cheering, and anticipating the kickoff of Super Bowl XLV while I was imagining running down the field on the kickoff team, cognizant of staying in the correct pursuit lane, and wrecklessly looking to make the first tackle of Super Bowl XLV.
There are often indescribable experiences and personal moments that make a game memorable, a career definable, and a moment… a moment. These sports moments are experienced uniquely by an individual and often times, never spoke of; rather kept in a memory bank and recalled when a new experience triggers the sounds, sights and smells of a particular moment. The game is a ame of inches they say, but to me it’s a game of moments. A few special moments that made a career meaningful, and memorable.