I admit it, I teared up a couple of times during the Super Bowl. Considering that football is just my 2nd or 3rd favorite sport that’s a bit unusual for me. I had no emotional ties to any team or any individual in this game. I wanted the NFC team to win but only because when the NFC team wins, 80% of the time the stock markets have a good year. And when the stock markets have a good year my job is a whole lot easier. But there I was, getting all misty eyed not once but twice. What the heck????
The first time was during the halftime show. I suppose there are some who think Madonna is supremely talented. I am not among them. And the halftime show was so bad it made my hair hurt which takes a lot cause I don’t have a lot of hair. It was so bad the pain caused me to shed a tear.
But that’s not the real reason I got all emotional. When I was a child growing up in Wichita, KS, we could tell what season it was by the sport we played with our friends in someone’s back yard or the nearest empty lot. Winter was basketball..it didn’t snow a lot and we could usually tolerate the cold on weekends. During the week we played hoops in the gym at school. Spring and summer was for baseball. My friends and I would fill a 5 gallon jug with cold water and haul it to the baseball diamond behind the school and play ball all day long. And in the fall it was football season. I didn’t care about hockey. I didn’t know anybody that cared about hockey. Heck, I didn’t know anyone that even thought about hockey.
When we played our informal games we would usually pretend to be our favorite player in each sport. My baseball hero was Mickey Mantle. I tried to emulate his batting stance and even learned to be a switch hitter to be like him. Long before anyone wanted to be like Mike I wanted to be like Mick.
When football season rolled around most of my friends wanted to be a quarterback which suited me just fine because my favorite player wasn’t the quarterback. Oh sure, I liked watching Bart Starr and Len Dawson. My favorite quarterback was Johnny Unitas…because he was the one that threw the ball to my favorite player, Raymond Berry. Ol’ number 82 in the familiar Colts jersey. We didn’t have instant replay or video tape in those days but some of Raymond’s catches are burned into my memory. My favorite pass pattern was the what is now called the “out” because that’s the one I saw Raymond run to perfection and make circus catches game after game. Run hard off the line to push the D-back off then head fake inside and cut 90 degrees to the sideline. Johnny U would put the ball on the money and Raymond would stretch on his tiptoes to reach the ball and stay in bounds. I practiced that pattern and catch for hours in the back yard with my friend Bruce (who later was quarterback of our high school team) until I thought I did it as well as Raymond. I was probably the best 10 year old out pattern runner in the country. And it was all because of Ol’ Number 82.
Tonight when the Super Bowl ended and the awarding of the Lombardi trophy occurred, it started with Raymond Berry carrying the trophy up to the awards stand. As I watched him slowly walk through the gauntlet of Giants players all reaching to touch the trophy, I was 10 years old again and running out patterns in the Buchanans’ back yard with a garden hose stretched out as a sideline. And yes, I teared up a little. Thanks for the memory Raymond. Wanna play catch?