I am not a football fan. I must admit, however, every year I feel an almost religious call to pay my respects to the ultimate shrine of football. What other sport can call an entire nation to gather, bet, and bow while tasting communion around chips and hot wings?
A few days before the great contest, I ask, “Now what teams are playing?” This year I felt a little embarrassed because I am now an official Floridian. Was I really supposed to know Tom Brady plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? What team should I root for?
Growing up in Pittsburgh, I was always beholden to the Steelers. I still remember most of the team members’ names like Franco Harris, L.C. Greenwood, Terry Bradshaw and Mean Joe Greene. It wasn’t because I watched all the games that I felt connected to them. I actually encountered them on the golf course.
Our home course was Latrobe Elks Golf Club. Latrobe also was the summer training camp for the Steelers. Every now and then, the players would venture over to the course to tee it up. To this young fourteen year-old girl at the time, these guys looked like giants. They were so big! They could throw a ball, tackle, and run, but could they hit a little white ball with a golf club? Now that was the big question.
I could! When I was serendipitously paired with the big guys, it was such a thrill to outdrive them all. Of course, it was only because I developed a skill they didn’t. More often than not, they would look at me and ask, “How did you do that? How could you outdrive us?” We’d laugh. Every now and then one would connect with the ball and send it sailing into outer space — well to the left or right.
It wasn’t hard to develop a mutual respect for one another. Football and golf share the concept of getting a ball in the air and moving it towards a goal, but that’s about it.
I still like the Steeler colors of black and gold much better than Kansas City’s white, red, and gold, or Tampa Bay’s red, white and pewter. We certainly didn’t have canary yellow shoes back then. Those were the days.
Times have changed, especially when you consider the paycheck of Patrick Mahomes. A 25-year-old getting a half a billion dollar contract? Did you hear me? A half a billion dollars for playing football? Even if he got sacked eight times during the game, what good is all that money if you risk getting brain damage?
Thank God we don’t have to wear helmets and mouthguards in golf and my match play opponents don’t tackle me on the green. There are some golfers, however, I’d like to sack for their behavior and bad language — or at least make them pay a 15-yard penalty.
After considering all the parameters most important to me, I decided to bet on Kansas City, choosing the young prince over the well-established king. Good thing I only lost 25 cents on my bet.
I guess I’ll have to wait until next year’s trip to football mecca to reverse my lost bet. Until then, I think I’ll head back to the tee where I know I can still win.