Baseball was my game. At age 14, I even had the rulebook mostly memorized and was the local arbitrator (they've added a lot of rules since then). Real men played baseball; football was for the big, the strong, the clumsy, the dumb. We had to play some flag football in high school P.E., and sometimes on the local "sandlot" when it was too cold for anything else. But, of the most complicated professional sport played in America I was less than a novice.
Then came Kenneth, our eldest. When he was about seven, football somehow became one of the things we would watch together. He knew as much about the game as I. There was no pro team around, so we were never sure who to root for. Way back then we only had black and white TV (yeah, you're getting old Kenny!). One of us would take the white team and the other got the black team. We learned the rules and love of the game together. Football is the perfect TV sport. You don't have to know who is playing, or much about the rules; something exciting is probably going to happen on the next play.
Three of our other kids follow football now, but only Ken and I are in danger of heart attack during one. When the Colts got into the Super Bowl, Kenneth came up from St. Louis to watch it with his daddy. He and our daughter even went out and bought us a new TV -- one worthy of Peyton Manning and the Super Bowl winning Colts! Did you know they broadcast those games in color now?
There are simply too many college teams to follow. The only one I try to keep up with is Notre Dame. This is partly because I once saw my favorite actor, Pat O'Brien, play Knute Rockne in a 1940s era movie. Mostly it's because the Fighting Irish are on TV with a consistent schedule, always Saturday on NBC.
When we first moved to Indiana I determined to adopt the Colts as My team. This was something of a commitment, as you may recall, in 1996. My biggest early thrill was seeing the Colts do so bad they got first pick in the college draft -- somebody named Peyton Manning. It was a good pick. Of all the athletes I've observed from afar over the (too many) years, Manning is one of the two I most admire. He puts forth the image of a man who works at his profession -- mentally and physically. Here is an athlete a man can point his son to and honestly say, "Be like that man." If I ever get a chance to ask Peyton a question, however, it would be this: How does an $80 million quarterback get in shape to be crushed by a 300 lb. minimum-wage rookie lineman?
Got my first glimpse of the exterior of Lucas Oil Stadium on TV last week. Man, that's an ugly building. Looks like the World War II vintage ammunition factory in the neighborhood where I grew up. From the interior view it seems like a good enough place to watch football -- I mean if you can't get the game on TV. Doesn't matter where they play, though, practice games are over -- real football has returned.
Kenneth's St. Louis Rams were crushed! Kenny always roots for bums. They'll probably go 0-16!
MY Colts Lost -- Great! Now the pressure is off for a perfect season. They'll probably go 15-1!
"God is in His heaven and all is right with the world," Football is back.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.