"You're a man of the mind" said of me by my mentor. A co-worker, looking over my shoulder the other day, seemed shocked, too, that I enjoy watching football. She wondered aloud at why, because I've showed her my poetry, and revealed to her some of the crazy inner workings of my mind. She called me a good writer.
Last night, in what might have been his last NFL game, executing what might have been his last throw as a professional athlete, Brett Favre did the first thing coaches tell young quarterbacks not to do. I found that fitting, the story of his beginnings and his possible ends (and if you know anything about what he's done in the past year, you'd know why I say possible). The man has been playing the game for longer than I've been alive, 20 years in the pros. He made a crucial mistake at a crucial time, and it's true that the sport is a team game, "but the storyline of this game was Brett Favre," said one of the commentators.
Which I don't necessarily agree with. The other team in the NFC championship game was New Orleans. And people will hear a lot about how many years they've been losers, the Aints, the laundry list of quarterbacks. The holes in the roof. The building still remembers, remembers Katrina and all the other times people crowded into its walls in sweaty desperation. I live near Atlanta, so I remember the first game the Super Dome opened for, because it was against the Falcons. And I don't think anyone in that building thought the Saints could have lost that game. After blocking a punt to score a touchdown "the announcers sat quiet for 37 seconds as the crowd cheered." They finally had something to cheer for again.
So yeah, I like story, being a story teller. On the one side, there was destiny, a different kind of tide was rising in the Big Easy and there was nothing, not even perhaps the greatest legend the game has ever heard of, that could be done to stop it. And in that effort, the gray beard, the wily veteran, the man "of a certain age" was crushed, shoved, sacked, struck, folded, and bent as he was felled again and again. He had no defense. Time and time again he was exposed as a mortal. And time and time again, he pushed against the turf and rose, however slowly, however painfully, back to his feet and went at it again. "I don't think there's another way that I'd prefer to remember him," an announcer said. He spoke about the knife edge of brilliance and disaster, and how unafraid he was.
But this was just one Sunday in a long list of other memorable Sundays. I shake my head and smile at the amazing nature of it all, how it will never happen the same way again, yet will be great again. I look forward to seeing how others will record the greatness of the events, what they will point out, what words they will use, the angles their camera-like minds will shoot from (well that was an awful metaphor). Why wouldn't I like football, is always my rebuttal.