My husband has seen every single Super Bowl. He began this ritual at age seven when he sat on the couch, wedged between a slew of big brothers and their buddies, listening to every word his father said about the game, the plays, the calls. He dreamed of playing with the pros himself. To him, this would have been heaven on earth.
I have nothing in my life to compare this to. The closest thing I can come up with is Christmas; it’s the only annual one-day event I know that entails as much anticipation, reverence, pomp and circumstance. I have plenty wonderful memories of Christmases past, but I can only relive them with my family.
Not so with my husband and his Super Bowls. Anyone watching (how many million?) remembers Jim O’Brien’s field goal, the one that won the game for the Baltimore Colts as well as Joe Namath’s cocky remarks ‘guaranteeing’ the Jets would win against the Colts.
Last Saturday night there was a Super Bowl special on ESPN, highlighting great moments from every year. They played the original NFL music, and my husband was instantly transported back thirty years to that living room couch where he sat at age seven, eight, nine and so on. He watched clips of Max McGee of the Green Bay Packers (his favorite team as a child) catching a touchdown pass from Bart Starr in the very first Super Bowl, and he remembered how he felt watching it live.
My husband nodded in recognition, a wide grin on his face, when they showed Lynn Swann catching a pass from Terry Bradshaw. He winced as ‘Dreamer’ Tatum and Jack Lambert delivered bone-crushing hits, over and over again. He even teared up when Jerry Kramer of the Green Bay Packers, said ‘Let’s play this last quarter for the old man,’ and then dedicated their win to their coach, Vince Lombardi. I watched this wide range of emotions transform my husband’s face as he relived every single play on the show, all the time dreaming he would be right out there with them one day.
Last Sunday we all huddled up on our couch to watch Super Bowl XXXIII. I was a better sport about it this year. I think it was because I had just glimpsed my husband as a little boy. I could picture him intently watching those football games, the ones he’d waited on and debated over. I could see him picturing himself running through the holes, turning and cutting just in time. I could imagine him studying the players, thinking about himself in that green jersey, cutting up the field with the ball.
My husband never played professional football, but that doesn’t diminish his love for the game. He is in heaven during football season, just like when he was a little boy. He never misses a game on television, and is absolutely giddy at the very idea of the Super Bowl.
Last Sunday night, I looked over at my husband during the game. He reacted verbally and physically the entire game. He marveled at the 80-yard pass John Elway made to Rod Smith for a touchdown and narrated each and every run Terrell Davis made. And he was surrounded by three boys who hang on each and every word he says, and not just regarding football. One son was lying across his chest, another was asking him about a certain play and the other was just listening to him.
My husband’s dream of playing pro football never came true, but I know, sitting in front of the fire, watching this game with his boys, he is in heaven on earth.