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Tuesday, October 26, 2010
A game inherited
'How come you never played pro football?' I asked my dad. I was maybe seven. I knew he played in high school.
'I was never really big enough,' he said, standing 6-feet tall and weighing 180.
I nodded my head and went back to organizing my football cards. I could comb through football or baseball cards, memorize statistics and plot the players I still needed to round out the full roster of the Baltimore Colts. It could have been a month after that exchange when I was reading the card for the Colts middle linebacker Ed Simonini. He was listed at 6-feet tall. Remarkable.
I went to dad to let him know there was still hope. 'Dad, you're the same size as Ed Simonini. You could play for the Colts!' Simonini was listed between 210 and 220, but weight was irrelevant for a seven-year-old (Funny how Ed would be a defensive back now at that size).
Dad didn't change careers, but that story is indicative of the place sports held in our house growing up and the family bond it engendered. We routed for Baltimore, the Colts and the Orioles. My mom's father attended every single home game the Colts ever played and my grandmother missed only one, pregnant at the time, with my mom. We routed against the Redskins and the Yankees and still do to this day.
My dad went to college at the University of Virginia, who had Ralph Sampson playing basketball when I was younger and we watched the Wahoos and routed against Maryland.
I remember my first Orioles baseball games at Memorial Stadium and being there with my dad for Game 1 against the Phillies in the 1983 World Series and being there a few years later for Mike Mussina's first game as an Oriole at home. I remember going to a Colts vs. Redskins pre-season game with my dad and my grandfather (mom's father) in Washington wearing my Bert Jones Colts jersey. I remember getting a fractured skull during Sunday School (another story) and being excited that I got to wear my Colts helmet to nursery school during the week.
I remember watching TV and seeing the Colts leaving town in the middle of the night in Mayflower moving trucks and being teamless, but still loving football and hating the Redskins. I remember talking with my dad about our excitement when the Ravens came to Baltimore and them drafting tackle Jonathan Ogden and linebacker Ray Lewis in their first draft as Baltimore's team. And in 2000, when the Ravens won the Superbowl, and how I was 27 years old when our football team won their first championship during my sports watching days.
We were on hand for the Ravens vs. Colts Baltimore home playoff game and at the Ravens stadium this past Sunday for the return of safety Ed Reed and the 10-year anniversary of the Super Bowl championship team.
Sports has been and continues to be a bond between my father and me and my grandfather when he was alive and a dinner table conversation. It's still one of the subjects we talk most easily about.
And for our girls now, with a Baltimore fan father and a Pittsburgh fan mother--our eight-year-old has Ravens QB Joe Flacco and Steelers QB Ben somebody or other jerseys in her drawer)--our girls are also growing up in a sports household.
Anna's Ravens Flacco jersey was a gift, after all. From my dad.