One thing, personal about the SuperBowl is that I always end up hearing from some of my former players, my kids.
As the big game approaches it’s a time for the mind to wander back to their own playing days. I was a part of it and probably the only person who wouldn’t be offended or embarrassed for their mawkish commiserations. Some people think it funny or disturbing for a 6′ 5″ 320 pound man to get misty remembering paying fields and friendships forged in combat, especially when they aren’t the most articulate guys going and they express themselves in rough cliches and clumsily structured greeting card style sentiment. I don’t and only partially because I’m not that far removed from the same state of mind.
I think I was lucky being raised in California, in a place and a time when surfing and guitars ruled our young consciousness. Racism and xenophobia weren’t accepted or even acknowledged. It was more important how much air you could get on a reentry and the spray of a lip smack.
Competitive sports existed for us almost a just a way to assert our natural superiority over the rest of mankind. That sounds as xenophobic as a Sarah Palin fund raiser but it isn’t. To join up you can believe and be anything, all you have to be is crazy enough to grab a board and try.
The beaches led us to the playing fields. Back then, and today, coaches couldn’t really understand or cope with the surfer mentality. Some learned to adapt because the surfers swam 4 to 6 hours a day. We were the fittest athletes in school. And in strength and agility the only ones who could compare were a few world class gymnasts. They had to adapt or watch potential championships drift back to the beaches.
So we loitered on the sun drenched playing fields. We ran and drilled and found the rest of the world acknowledging us as something more than they had just the day before. And we excelled and won and our friendships grew deeper and our understanding of others increased and we stayed in a place that matured but was always young and sunny.
And that was always the heart of my coaching. Not militaristic jingoism and slogans, not tin despotic win at all cost idiocy but remember the fun, the friendships and the sun.
Coaching in Europe in the cold and the wind and the rain was different. Not just the weather but the attitude. They only know the game via the NFL and TV. Sports other than soccer are pretty much ridiculed and viewed as sissified American projects.
The NFL presence in Europe didn’t help much. The coaches they sent over were the dregs of the NFL. Even then the profession yielded a few guys willing to teach but just a few.
The NFL is for profit so I can’t blame them for not caring about sportsmanship or raising young people up to respect themselves and others. They hired people who knew how to get the kids to buy product, jerseys, sweat shirts etc. That was their job.
Even though my kids threw up an astonishing 105-7 record the NFL never cared. They never filtered anything our way. They never helped. My kids were from the wrong side of town for the most part. So my kids never knew what they were missing. We traded helmets when the D went on the field and kept having fun while the rest of the world ignored us.
Well, not the rest of the world. We played American high school teams, won a couple too even though we usually got thrashed. We played European champions and did okay too and my kids learned to meet different people and to discover that we weren’t that different from each other after all.
I love my kids and they never failed to make me proud of them. They never quit on themselves or each other and they never forgot that the most important part was the fun.
So as to the Superbowl . . . I really don’t have a favorite. The Steelers have Troy Polamanu, one of my favorite former Trojans. But the Packers have Clay Matthews, the Trojan walk on. I wish the
But the Packers also have Aaron Rogers, the last Cal QB to actually beat USC, took him double overtime to do it, but he did it.
I don’t much like the Steelers at all after Troy although I expected them to be much heavier favorites even with a cruddy O-line. So I guess I’m picking the Packers . . . even though I wanted it to be Bears-New England . . .
My wife is still suffering from the loss of her mother. Too be expected. Its times like this that a long distance marriage is really stupid. We’re still waiting for the DHS to schedule the appointment for the interviews to get her a green card. Since Obama has proven to be a bad joke as a president and kept most of the Bush people in charge I’m pretty pessimistic about the interviews and any attempt at fairness. It will work though, I’m sure of that.