By: Tosha Woronov
I am not the sort of woman who has a problem with football, or who doesn’t “get” it. Born and raised in Colorado, I grew up with the Broncos. As much as I hated Sundays – homework, the end of the weekend, the end of fun – the sounds of the game coming from the 2 or 3 televisions in the house offered solace. While writing a book report I could, without looking up, follow the game by the occasional whoo-hoos! or damnits! coming from my parents.
And then I met Peter, who brought a whole new level -or, division -of football to my world. It wasn’t just the Broncos anymore, it was the Giants. And it wasn’t just Sunday, but, because of Syracuse, it was any day or night of the week. (Ok, I have to admit, during this phase, I played the irritated girlfriend and later wife, annoyed that I was supposed to suddenly care about the, gulp, Big East on a, c’mon!, Wednesday!)
When Leo was born, wishing that he would love sports (even though his parents do) was not at the top of my list. I hoped more that he would be healthy, happy, smart, somewhat calm, sociable, silly, maybe artistic. We are lucky, because Leo is all of those things and more (wickedly funny, sweeter than sweet, cautious, brave, insightful, intuitive, sensitive, nuts).
But suddenly, this year – oh my. He is a football fan! He has been taught to consider the NY Giants (daddy) and the Denver Broncos (mommy), and he does, definitely. But because he loves the game in general, he watches all of them, picking a team to root for each time. He cheers wildly for the Green Bay Packers (huh?) and the Baltimore Ravens (wha?). I had to remind him once, while wiping his tears, that it was ok that the Lions lost, because he is not from Detroit. He cried for the Bengals and the unexpected death of 26 year-old wide receiver Chris Henry (wondering aloud yesterday during the game when Henry would be back to play). I allowed us to sit in the bar of an Italian restaurant the other night so he, along with about 12 other men, could watch the undefeated New Orleans Saints be defeated by the Cowboys. (Excited by the whole perfect record thing, how crushed he was by their fall from grace.) He knows every team’s record, which can be a little scary. Over Thanksgiving, he wowed his grandfather – and kept him company – catching every minute of every game, both pro and college. He checks the NFL television schedule on my iPhone and knows that SEA means the Seattle Seahawks, CHI means the Bears, and NE the Patriots. He is bummed when a much-anticipated game is not carried on one of our cable channels. If he knew to ask for it, the only thing on his Santa list would be DirectTV. I must remind you that he is tiny, barely five years old. I’m not sure what is more fun to watch: his concentration (“Mom! They sacked the quarterback!” “Dad! It’s second and five!”) or his enthusiasm (“Let’s go Giants, let’s go!” clap-clap-clap! – repeat 300 times).
Like his daddy, he doesn’t just watch. The kid can throw a spiral 20 yards and will slam his little body on the ground to catch a pass. He even taught me to throw a football – the right way – the way I always wished I could. I never thought I’d hear my child say “Good job mom! That was a bullet!” My favorite thing to do each night is watch my husband and my son throw the football back and forth in the living room, Leo diving wildly into the end zone (the couch). I am happy that I am a mom who allows footballs to be thrown in the house (no punts though. I immediately put the stop to punting).
It’s funny to me, now that he has become this fan, that I never thought to want it for him in the first place. It’s who he is, and we are having a blast. And isn’t that what football is all about?