Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Tough Get Going

I arrived at the house of Roosevelt Brown in full gear, helmet on,  shoulder pads in place, the number 79 written across the back of my jersey. In the 1950's, a father could just pick up the phone and call an all-pro offensive lineman to ask if he and his young son could come by for a visit.

From 1976 to 1996,  I attended virtually every New York Giant home game. In January of 1986, I was in the stands in California the day the team captured the Super Bowl.

So you see, we have a history.

Last Sunday was cold in Massachusetts, with the temperatures hovering around 0 degrees for parts of the day. In a winter of unusual warmth, this was startling different. As night descended, the chill was even more piercing.

The Giant playoff game began at 4:30. A team that had looked listless and lost through the middle of the season, was suddenly focused and energized. Having won its first round playoff game in convincing fashion,  it was now beginning to manhandle the great and mighty Packers. I had been convinced before the season began that this team was destined for nothing but the bottom of its own division. Now, I was being shown the error of my ways. And the hail-mary that worked at the end of the first half made me start to believe.

There is a moment at the inception of a power blackout when there is a fleeting hope that maybe only a fuse blew (not that I would know where to find the fuse box). Now, as the voices of my son and wife confirmed our predicament , and everything everywhere was without light, reality took hold.

This apartment was going to get chilly in short order as the difference from inside- out was close to 70 degrees. But in that moment, when I should have been concerned for the welfare of those closest to my heart, my thoughts were not of protection. Rather, I wondered,  how could I get to see the rest of the Giant's game.

We have friends who live almost 30 minutes away. I say that to get their residence, you go to the end of the world and then make a left hand turn. Surely, I thought, they would be out of  harm's way and able to receive the transmission. When my wife said that there was no need to abandon our home, that we could gather up candles for light and lay under heavy blankets for warmth, that there was no reason to rush into the wilderness when the power could be restored in short order, when the cold would not envelop us for many hours and by then we would be asleep, I was disconsolate. None of that mattered.

After listening to several minutes of my droning on about the need for us to get to safety at once, my all-knowing wife said to me that I should just get in the car and go downtown. Hopefully the lights would be on at the local restaurant/bar and I could go watch the remainder of the game. Embarrassed by my tirade but grateful for the understanding of my spouse, I picked up the keys and headed out the door.

And so, I watched the end of the 3rd quarter and all the 4th with my new friends. I regaled them with stories of my days at earlier games, impressed them with my knowledge of football strategy, and existed in that universe without a care in the world. My apartment might still be in darkness, my wife and son huddling under their respective blankets, dressed with layers to supplement layers, but all was right as long as the Giants continued to pummel the Packers.

Once the game ended,  I parted, happy and content, warm and secure in the knowledge that there was another game to be played next week.

And, by the way, during that Super Bowl weekend in 1987, while I reveled in everything Big Blue in sunny California, I missed my son's sixth birthday party back in the frigid northeast.

 I know that many might judge me harshly for my actions. But I hope that Roosevelt Brown would understand and forgive me.


Anonymous said...

Robert - I loved this blog. I wrote a lot of stuff about how much I have loved watching the 49ers for 45 years, but deleted all of it to just say - see you (your Giants) in S.F next Sunday. May one of our teams win the Super Bowl. Cherie

Anonymous said...

You win . . . Good luck at the Super Bowl.