I was watching Monday Night Football tonight. Here is a story from “Exactly As I Remember It” about the Dallas Cowbays, Dad and Me.
A Football Story (It’s Really About Dad and Me)
(San Antonio, Texas, circa 1974)
As a boy, there were three holy services of worship each Sunday. There was Sunday morning church, Sunday evening church and Sunday afternoon football. Dad officiated at all three. When the Dallas Cowboys played, all else stopped for three hours and the future of all humanity hung precariously in the outcome. As is his way, when he enters earth, he enters like a whirlwind! He would hang on every play. Hoot, holler, clap and groan. If the Cowboys lost a close one, he struggled to preach that night. How can a man proclaim hope in the midst of such agony?
Football holds some of my fondest memories of my childhood. Some of my best times with my dad were spent in front of a black and white, rabbit eared,
twelve-inch television. I remember Family Night each Monday in the fall and winter. Don’t be misled by the name, dad and I would watch football; mom and Jill went somewhere else. It was Fred and Shane night and it was the best night of the week. The evening was spent with Gunsmoke and Monday Night Football. Matt Dillon and Tom Landry, how could it get better than that! For this event mom made peanut-butter-chocolate-oatmeal no-bake cookies. I would prepare by garnering all of my football cards of the respective teams playing that evening. I would choose the team I was rooting for and dad got the other one. We watched the game with the cards lined horizontally in front of us. Each time Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford or Dandy Don Meredith mentioned a name represented by a football card, you moved the card ahead a full length. Like a horserace the game sprawled in front of us, as quarterbacks and running backs pulled from the pack. Names of football players became a part of my life and vocabulary. I knew every player on the Dallas Cowboys and I dreamed that I was Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett or Bob Lilly at night. My eyes got heavy somewhere after halftime; when I awakened the cards were cleaned up, the TV was off and I was in bed. My dad! There was a man who knew how to party!
Football was an earthly vice that forced dad into the world of normalcy. It was a transition back into our world and we appreciated his presence, if just for a while. Football has remained a realm uninterrupted by pastoral emergencies, the underground church in communist lands, No Greater Love, Mardi Gras or next Sunday’s sermon. Football was a plane on which my dad and I could sit side by side…in two seats, right on the fifty yard line!