Friday, February 9, 2024

My Football Journey - A Long and Winding Road


Super Bowl Sunday!   Coming Soon!

There was a time when my home would be full of people on this hallowed day.

It started when I was a little thing and growing up with a dad who was an obsessive Colts fan.  Actually, I'm not sure there was any other kind of Colts fan.

Tickets were all but impossible to come by.

When someone died their Colts tickets were passed down.

My dad did not own a Colts season ticket, but he owned "part" of one.

He didn't get to go to all the home games, only when his turn came up in the rotation, but those he did get to were always something he enjoyed more than just about anything else in life.

And he was usually in trouble the next day.

He would go with this crazy crowd of cronies.  They were always later getting home than he said they would be.  Much later.  And he would usually bring my mom a gift to ease the pain of the wrath of Hazel.  That gift ploy never ever worked.  Never.

I hesitate to mention some of the gifts 'cause I don't want you to think less of my dad, but LordAMercy.  They were awful.  (But funny.  At least to me.)

Okay.  Here's one.  (My mom would absolutely kill me for telling this story).

Only a group of idiot men coming home late from a football game will think it's a good idea to stop along the side of the road and pick up (okay, let's just say it - steal) a State of Maryland smudge pot.

Anyone remember when this is what road crews would use at night to mark the roads?  Like say, they were doing a repair and wanted to re-route cars away from the repair site?  There would be a line of these flaming smudge pots showing a new traffic pattern.

Well, we had one.

And no, my mom was not happy.  She did not love her smudge pot.

I think I remember her saying she was going to call the State of Maryland and turn him in for stealing state property.

And I think we all got kinda tickled about that, truth be told.

What can I say - I was raised by crazy people who laughed at crazy stuff.  And did crazy stuff.  I would not swap parents with anyone.  Never wanted to as a kid, and am thankful for having grown up to have them as friends.  They were the best.


When my dad couldn't be at a game and when it was on TV there was always this group of rowdies hanging out at our place.  

Here's the roster - Tom Duncan and his dog Bobo (I loved Bobo.  Loved Tom too).  Dude Willoughby and his younger brother Young Dude Willoughby.  Some guy named Fish.  Another guy named Moose.  There was a Donnie (the only one I didn't particularly care for).  And a sweet old guy named Fred.

They would drink beer.  A lot of beer.

My mom would make sandwiches, or sometimes cook them a nice meal.  She would put it out on the kitchen table so they could help themselves and then she would disappear into the bedroom, close the door and read or nap.

She was not a fan of football.


I was usually on the floor, sitting between my dad's feet sneaking sips out of his beer.

This was a problem.

My mother would pitch a fit about him allowing his only child to become an alcoholic before the age of 10.  (I'm telling you, she had some great lines).

It was also a problem when the Colts would score and everyone in the room would stand up, arms straight up in the air, screaming SCORE!

I occasionally had my fingers stepped on.  I also occasionally would accidentally hit someone in the nose when my hands went straight up for the SCORE!

We had an old sofa that sat on 4 short little wooden legs.  When the guys sat back down one Sunday after the SCORE! all four legs popped off the sofa and pinged against the walls.

Oh, yes - Hazel Wilkinson was thrilled.

Long story short - a new sofa was bought.

But the very next time the guys were over to watch the Colts someone's cigar was dropped and there was a nasty burn in the sofa arm.

WHY my mom put up with all this I will never know.   But.  She loved all these guys.  They were all a huge part of our family life for many, many years.

And these things did make for great stories, I have to say.

You might already know the end of this particular saga.

Colts owner Robert Irsay moved the team from Baltimore to Indianapolis, completely unannounced, in the early morning hours of March 29, 1984. This after having been THE team in Baltimore since 1953.

Believe me when I say this is still a topic of conversation and it has not yet been forgiven.

When Donald and I were cleaning out my mom's apartment we found this -

Oh, yes.  This was a huge hit back in 1984.

But I had to laugh that my mom still had it.

Tucked in a drawer.

An old 45 that had been my dad's.

Back when he was heartbroken and mad as hell about losing the Colts.

Back when we actually had a turntable on which this record could be played.

Moving ahead quite a few years and I was now in Atlanta and pulling for the Atlanta Falcons.  This was before, during, and after the Bartkowski years.

There were always, always, always, people at my house watching football.

Once again, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

My furniture was now the furniture bearing football scars.

My house was now the place people were drinking beer, a lot of beer, and standing up to shout SCORE!

I was the one making sandwiches and leaving them in the kitchen for everyone to help themselves.


I had become my mother AND my father.

I was also totally in love with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  More so than the Falcons, truth be told.

Mostly I loved Terry Bradshaw, Mean Joe Greene, Franco Harris and Lynn Swann.  Man - I loved those guys.

But, as time went on I lost my taste for football.

Then, for maybe a year, it was back when Cam Newton was a fun new player with the Panthers.

Then it was gone again.

(Am I the most fickle football fan ever?!)


It's back.

and in a big way.

Now I'm head over heels in love with The Chiefs.

Well, okay - yes, Travis Kelce does make me swoon a little . . .

And yes, I love the Taylor & Travis fairy tale and hope they last forever together.

And yes, I think the haters and the conspiracy nuts are pitiful, pathetic, sad, and ignorant.

Now I'm a happy girl with my bum parked in front of the TV watching The Chiefs play ball.  And I will still stand up and shout SCORE!

Football is fun for me again.

Who knew?!

So.  In a couple days I'll be reliving the kind of Sunday I have lived, off and on, since I was a little bitty thing.  Back from the time I was a kid sitting between her dad's feet stealing sips of beer.  I'll be in my own chair for this game, drinking my own glass of wine, and I'll be thinking about my dad.

Watching The Kansas City Chiefs play The San Francisco  49ers in the Superbowl.

No big crowd of people.  Just me, Donald and Annabelle.  Not as many superbowl snacks sitting around as there might have been back in the day, but some.  More than enough.

I am a very loud football fan, even watching it on TV.  That will never change.

I still jump up and yell SCORE!

It seems to be a part of my genetic make-up, that "SCORE!" thing.

And I still yell at the refs.

And I am, of course, a great armchair quarterback AND coach.  

It's fun to have a team to cheer for again.  To know the players and their positions.

Truth be told, none of this would be happening for me if it weren't for one person.

And you know who I mean - Taylor Swift.

I love her.  The woman just rocks and she's made football fun again for people like me who walked away from the NFL for so many reasons.

Man, I hope she makes it to Sunday's game and I hope the Chiefs win, and I hope she and Travis get to share a big ol' smooch on the field afterwards.

Go Chiefs!

I am ready for some football!

Note: This is a revised piece which was originally posted at the Jungle Reds blog back in 2016.

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