Donna C. Terrell

I Was Just Thinkin'

Dad, FOOTBALL and Me

on October 22, 2012

In honor of my father and football season, this is a reposting of this favorite. Enjoy!

My mother died two days before my tenth birthday. That’s when my father and I began to really get to know each other. Oh, he was at home; it’s just that Dad worked two jobs, and I always had an enforced bedtime, so I really didn’t see him until the weekend rolled around. At the time of my mother’s death, Dad had to let go of that second job to begin to raise his little daughter alone.

Sports were always an obsession with my father. He watched the games as if he were on the field, or diamond, or ice—you get the picture. His outbursts—THROW THE BALL!!—were heard throughout the block and actually became quite legendary with the neighbors. Once, after what must have been an extremely stupid play that aroused the ire of my father, I asked, “What would you do if you were the coach, Dad?” “I’d fire all of ‘em!” he groused.

When my mother died, football season was well underway. Monday Night Football was a very big deal to Dad. I’d park myself on the couch next to him and scream at the TV with him. I started picking “favorite” teams so Dad and I could choose sides. (I just chose teams because I liked the names. To this day, I still like those teams.) Once Dad and I were in a store and I asked for a pack of football cards. I soon knew every team in the NFL. Dad then began to teach me the point system. I was a fast learner.

Once, some of the goofy boys in my fifth grade class were having a discussion about football. When they said a safety was worth three points, I quickly butted in and corrected them. “You don’t know nothing. Shut up!” they told me. “I’m gonna ask my father,” I retorted. “Ask your father, then!” they challenged.

I marched myself home and sought the confirmation of my all-knowing father. I complained to Dad that the boys were wrong and they thought I was stupid. Dad wrote a note: BOYS—A safety is worth 2 points in high school, college, and professional football. The next day, I proudly slammed that note on Arthur’s desk. BAM! Shut them up!

Speaking of boys, in high school, I learned that I couldn’t get in on any conversations with them unless I knew sports. I asked Dad more intricate questions about football, and I started paying attention to the stats of local schools and high profile players. At least I could then converse with some authority about what school was in the exalted red division and who dropped all the way to the lowly white.

Dad and I were in 7th heaven when the Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl. We started going to games at Soldier Field together. When my social life would take precedence over the game, my father would accusingly say to me “You don’t care anything about the Bears!” I now accuse him of being a fair-weather fan. He turns them off when they’re losing. When two weeks in a row he missed a stupendous finish from the Bears “D”—he of little faith—Dad caught an earful from me about that!

Over the years as my devotion and knowledge of the sport has increased, our football bond has grown stronger. I go to his house every Sunday to catch the game, and when we don’t watch the game together, we’re on the phone two and three times throughout to cheer a cool play or complain about who we’d personally like to drop kick off the field. Many things have changed in our lives, and many (football) seasons have passed, but Dad and I are still yelling at the TV together “THROW THE BALL!!”

(Photo compliments of the Ruffin Family)

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3 responses to “Dad, FOOTBALL and Me

  1. Sean Breslin says:

    Really enjoyed reading this! My father and I have a similar bond…we still go to 4-5 Falcons home games a year and I usually go to my parents’ house to watch the rest of them. We started going to the Georgia Dome in 1998 when I was 11, and it’s been a great tradition for the last 13 years!

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