This morning, I was exchanging emails with my dad about concussions in football, and he wanted to remind me that he never let me play football. True, I wasn’t allowed to play football as a kid. And my dad wasn’t allowed to play football either. And he wanted to make sure that, one day, I kept the tradition alive.
Well, honestly, I’m not sure if I will or will not let my son play football. I know that I won’t let my son play football before the age of 14. The research shows that under 14, kids brains are still developing and their necks aren’t strong enough to support their oversized head. But when it comes to beyond 14, I might just let my son make his own choice.
Honestly, football is one of my favorite games to watch. I’m the biggest Patriots fan in the world. The reason the Patriots lost against the Seahawks was because I wasn’t watching the game or wearing my jersey. I cursed the team. (I had to conduct an interview.)
I’ll never forget the game when Tom Brady came back against the Oakland Raiders. I was still in high school, and I was watching the game at my grandparents’ house. It was pitch black outside, and the snow was stacked high. Cumulonimbus clouds were dumping down a wicked lot of snow. I remember feeling that the game was over, and the miraculous Patriots run was finally finished.
That’s when Tom Brady started connecting to Jermaine Wiggins and Troy Brown in the second half. That’s when Brady started to spike the ball into the snow so hard that he fell over with joy. That’s when the tuck rule bailed out our team. That’s when a sixth round draft pick — from out of no where — became a hero.
My grandmother, Mimi, was going crazy. She was sitting right next to my brother and me, holding our hands and screaming out every play. She didn’t like football — in fact she called it foosball and the Patriots the Pat ri awts. I wish I could spell it out phonetically, but I can’t. And she was right there with us, cheering at every play. It was almost like we were cheering for ourselves, too.
Man, when I look back at this video, an intense memory comes back. I watched the game back in my hometown, Clinton, Massachusetts. I was still in high school. I was lost and confused. And I remember, while watching Tom Brady bring life to a somewhat miserable franchise, I felt that anything was possible. Of course, when I write that everyone from Boston is going to be reminded of Kevin Garnett. That felt forced when he screamed, “Anything is possible.” But when Tom Brady marched down the field, in the snow, and Vinateri kicked that field goal, the snow didn’t seem so thick and the night didn’t seem so black.
Well, back to my original point. I tried to play football when I was younger, and my dad wanted me to make sure I remembered how miserable I was at football. Just in case I had any thoughts of letting my son play. My dad hated watching me play. He was so worried about me. This is what he wrote: “I remember that one play the running back got easily outside the tackle and you were the only DB in the area. You intentionally faked yourself out so you wouldn’t have to take him head on.”
I try to remember that season I played football differently. He was right though: I was pretty terrible.