Column: Just in time

Published 6:29 am Sunday, February 2, 2020

The Super Bowl can’t come soon enough. If ever America needed a distraction from the events taking place in Washington, DC, it has to be this year. I do wonder if it is a little like the toga-clad Romans filing into the Coliseum to watch their favorite blood sport while the barbarians were knocking at the city gate. If so, I understand the need for a distraction.

As I write this, I understand the impeachment trial of President Donald John Trump could be over or we could face another week or more of testimony. Perhaps weeks or even months of uncertainty if the courts are involved. No matter the outcome, families and friends will still be at odds and the nation will still be divided.

Hopefully the Super Bowl will allow us a rest from the endless divisiveness. We can make our pick, place our bets, razz our friends and just have some fun. On Monday morning, everything will be decided. We can wander into our offices bleary eyed still feeling the effects of one too many beers or one too many tacos. We will spend the next hour or so recounting every play. No matter what team we picked, by the end of the day the “Big Game” will be a memory.

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I grew up a New York Giants fan. My uncle and father would often go to games. Tickets in those days weren’t easy to come by, but they had an in with a local beer distributor. I would watch as they drove off. I hoped they would say, “I have an extra ticket; do you want to come?” It never happened. Football was not for children. It was a man’s game and not to be encumbered by children. Football, even as a spectator sport, was a rite of passage in my family.

I was 12 years old in 1960 when the American Football League was formed. Somehow my brother and I convinced my mother that we could ride the bus to New York to see a pro football game. Our paper route money would be enough to board the bus, take the subway, buy a ticket and get close to football heaven.

The bus trip from my home town took just under an hour to reach New York. Part of the deal we made with my mother was that we would go directly from the bus to the subway, but how could we pass up at least a glimpse of the city streets? How could we resist this chance to be a spectator of life?

The walk up 42nd Street with my brother and two friends was uneventful, but eye opening. New York in those days was gritty. It wasn’t the sanitized version of today. As we wandered, we would dodge hawkers selling watches, knives and other merchandise. We passed seedy movie houses, flame steak restaurants that featured cuisine that surely was purchased from the back of a truck and provocatively dressed women that smiled as we walked by.

We safely reached the subway station. The subway cars were full of football fans. Mostly New York Giant fans. At the 155th St. station we would get off and watch as the D train headed to the next stop, Yankee Stadium. We were at the Polo Grounds, the home of the New York football Titans. We were one stop short of football nirvana.

This was as close to football heaven as I could get. The stands were half full. I can’t even tell you who most of the players were. Many in the stands listened to the Giant game on transistor radios. Cheers would drift across the river when the Giants scored, followed by cheers from the Polo Grounds crowd. The Titans game was a consolation. It didn’t matter to me because it was a great adventure.

Football would remain an adventure and a diversion for me over the years. I would eventually reach my vision of football heaven. Although I no longer hang on every play or watch football every week, there are times when a good football game can take me back, give me the feeling of that first football adventure. A diversion, where the only argument is over a well- or ill-timed pass play. This is one of those times.

The current impeachment trial has been exhausting. The current political divisions are intolerable. The knowledge that whatever the outcome of the trial of Donald John Trump the nation will remain divided. Government as we have come to know it will probably change. For one day, like the toga-clad Romans with the barbarians knocking at the gate, I just want to watch a football game. The Super Bowl can’t come soon enough.



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