The other day your class at daycare had a Super Bowl party. I bought you a new Eagles tee-shirt, brought in your favorite cookies, and you guys made football-themed art projects.
Here’s the thing: one day you will learn exactly what the Super Bowl is, what the NFL is all about, and the fact that human fandom over such a thing is just us re-visiting our basic natural instincts as far as violence, competition, and tribalism is concerned. Until that day, I will teach you everything you need to know and how one enjoys such things.
We’ll start with the basic things:
There are 32 teams in the league, which is run by a commissioner who is not always correct in his ways. The layout of where each players line up according to position, and what each player’s job is may need to be written up on a whiteboard so you can visualize everything. All the rules and regulations that each team must abide by, we’ll save for while we’re actually watching games.
After that, the hard part comes. Not hard because I am lacking in knowledge, but hard in that some of them may be difficult to convey until you witness something similar. Teaching you about the traditions and revered individuals of the sport itself sometimes requires witnessing scenarios that are similar, so that you have context. But you’ll learn about people like Jim Brown, Terry Bradshaw, Johnny Unitas and even the hilariously unfolding career of “Clipboard Jesus”, Charlie Whitehurst. You’ll learn about “Miracle at The Meadowlands” and “The Catch” (there are a couple). You’ll learn about the terrible history of the Browns, the rough-and-tumble existence of the Rams/Raiders/Chargers, the debatable greatness of Tom Brady, and the misfortune of the Bengles during the playoffs.
Two things however, will reign supreme in your lessons about the greatest sport in the United States.
1.) Your Dad (and Grand Mother) are crazy Eagles fans. While my loyalty comes into question via Facebook, because of the appreciation I show for the Seattle Seahawks, it is all silliness. I like watching them play, and they will always be my “Number Two”, but no team will ever come nearly as close to my heart as The Eagles.
2.) You can root for whatever team you like as long as it’s not the Cowboys, Redskins, or Rams. I won’t let you sink that low. But whatever team you choose, you must always be dedicated during the playoffs. Even if they got there by way of Wild-Card match up, they still earned their spot to be there.
All in all, being an NFL fan is full of ups and downs. There will be players you hate, whole teams even, and you’ll even feel that pang of guilt for even supporting the sport in the first place. A bunch of super-athletic dudes in tight clothing beating the piss out of each other and putting their health at high risk for an UN-GODLY amount of money. But you’ll love it just the same. Despite the missed calls by the refs that lead to losses for your team, or the fact that a player who beats his spouse gets less time off-field than a guy who MAYBE deflated some balls. Your team could switch cities, trade away your favorite players, or charge extraordinary prices for tickets.
But you’ll love it. All of it. For all the times your team comes out with a win, championship or otherwise. When you draft you’re favorite prospect or bring in a free agent that fills a gap. The jerseys, they key-chains, the hats, sitting in the nosebleed section with your best friend, you’ll treat every Sunday (and occasional Thursday) as a Holy day.
Through all of it you can count on another thing: my love.
Whether you are a Green Bay fan wearing a huge head of cheese and an Aaron Rodgers jersey, or a fellow Eagles fan eagerly waiting for our first championship. I’ll be there, with love and support during the hardest times, and chiding mini-hatred while you gloat in my face (“You may have won, but your QB has a funny face”).
I will love you no matter what, no matter how crazy it gets. Because in the end this is all for the love of the game, and the love of you.
Love always and Fly Eagles Fly,