I watched a lot of football with my dad while I was growing up. My dad would watch anything if someone was keeping score and there was going to be a winner: competitive bass fishing, high school football games, the National Spelling Bee, you name it. And since watching sports was the main way I could connect with a man who didn’t talk a lot and wasn’t very comfortable as a father, I watched many hours of anything and everything with him.
In particular, though, we loved football. Our football love was a tragic love, however, as we were Jets fans. Growing up in New York, you could be a Giants fan, or you could be a consistently disappointed Jets fan. To be a Jets fan was to be up 24-0 in the 4th quarter and saying, “Hold on. We could still fuck this up.”
My dad died ten years ago yesterday. He went out on a high note, as the Jets had beaten the Steelers 6-0 four days earlier. Two days after his death, they lost to the Patriots, 21-16. Dad despised the Patriots. It was best that he wasn’t around to see that.
I stopped watching football that year, and didn’t start again till last season. And now that I am in Seattle, I am lucky enough to get to be a Seahawks fan. It has been so much fun getting back into the game, reading “Football For Dummies” to refresh myself on the rules, screaming and yelling with every lead change, and — most of all — watching with my kids and teaching them the game. It’s small and it’s superficial, but it reconnects me to my dad, a man I never knew very well except through the competitiveness, loyalty, and joy of sports. Now I hope to add this as one of the ways to connect with my own children, who warm my heart as they cheer for Marshawn Lynch, Golden Tate, Russell Wilson, and Richard Sherman. My dad would love it. Except that he hated the Seahawks. And he would have been confused by a team that wins games (Ouch. Sorry, Dad.)
I miss you, Dad. And in case you were wondering, the Jets still suck.
By the way, I am taking next week off for Santa, but I wanted to leave you with my current favorite videos. These are the ones I am watching on repeat these days and laughing my ass off. HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE!!