Monday, November 7, 2011

Go Team

Who should I root for?  Pulling for the hometown competitors in pro football has been a passion I love.  My problem is when I move to another location, it's hard to disengage from the last team I felt so zealously about.

Growing up in upstate NY, I had blind allegiance to the Giants.  Every Sunday we would gather in front of the tube to watch and cheer on our beloved players like Conerly, Gifford, Huff and Grier.  This was  facemaskless  football and on black and white TV.   Back then,  if a man danced in the end zone, everyone would think he was coming out of the closet.   Upon graduating college, I heeded the advice of Horace Greeley and sought a future in the West.  Unfortunately GPS was yet to be invented and I ended up in Miami, Florida.  Obviously I made a wrong turn. 

I arrived in the land of sun and fun just in time for the Dolphins' initial year in the old American Football League.   George Wilson coached the teal and orange-clad squad.  His son quarterbacked.  I remember the Miami Herald's front page picture of young Mr. Wilson posing on the beach dressed in his colorful uniform with the blue waters of the Atlantic as a dramatic backdrop.  Quite a kaleidoscope of color.  The plea was to come out and support your new champions.  Exciting times in the land of the palms.   Trying to be  loyal to this new team, I suffered terribly.  Wrenching my affiliation away from the boys in blue and transposing my affections to guys dressed in teal and orange--teal, my God--caused physical and mental problems.  Waking up sweating and screaming from nightmares caused by guilt produced so much misery, I decided to move back North.

I searched for work and landed a job in Ithaca, NY.  Aha, back to the land of Giants.  My tortured soul was calmly soothed and piece of mind followed.  I began a position with an utility company selling gas.  Selling gas was not an exactly difficult proposition; people were clamoring for gas.  I actually worked at my job on Monday morning and the rest of the week tried to keep myself busy with long lunches, shooting pool and golf.  Recognizing alcoholism just around the corner with this lifestyle, I sought new and more challenging employment.  

Buffalo became my next place of residence.  My job was definitely more satisfying, but I faced once again switching football allegiance.  At least this time the team had blue in their colors.  At that time the Buffalo Bills had a running back named O.J. Simpson and he was worth the price of a ticket.  Sitting all bundled up in the cheap seats of the old War Memorial Stadium was icy cold but thrilling.  Jack Kemp did such a good job as QB, he got elected to Congress.

Now I had a soft spot in my heart for three teams--the Giants, Dolphins and Bills.  Sundays I spent a lot of time exercising because TV remotes weren't available yet.  One morning my office phone woke me and I learned of my transfer to Washington.  No man or woman who lives in the DC area dare not sacrifice one's  life, kids or right to vote, for the Redskins.  Sundays got harder.

I moved to North Carolina.  NC didn't have a pro team then--phew.   North Carolinians rooted for the Redskins.  Next came South Carolina.  South Carolinians pro team of choice was called the Falcons, who played out of Atlanta.  Hell, if I had room in my heart for four teams, why not five?    

As luck would have it, when I returned to NC, a new team started.  These guys, the Panthers, wore some color close to teal, but regardless, I championed their cause   Now Sundays became a nightmare.  Thank God for remotes.

Titans in Tennessee.  Yep, Jeff Fisher and his crew became my local hometown favorites when I retired to a pastoral village on a lake near Knoxville.  By now I purchased a TV with a feature called a picture within a picture so I could watch two games at once.  By deftly using my remote, I could orchestrate the channels to observe parts of four games at a time.

Trying to keep count, I believe I'm up to seven favorite teams.  It's difficult being a true fan of seven favorite teams, but thanks to Sunday double headers, Sunday night football, Monday night football and now Thursday night football, I have a chance. 

I now live in Delaware where the fans are split between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Baltimore Ravens.   I'm too old and feeble to take on yet another favorite team.  Next year Gal Friday and I are moving into our new "Aging in Place" house on the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp in North Carolina.  Back to the Panthers.  Were these the guys wearing teal?