Sunday, September 13, 2009

Throwbacks--The Boston(?) Patriots and the (really) Golden Gophers of the University of Minnesota

With apologies to my equine readers, we're going to take a quick time-out to pay homage to one of the most American of all autumnal rites of passage--football. Surely you didn't think I was going to say tea parties?!

Most of you will realize, having read a few blog posts, that I love competitions and sporting contests. Since I was very young, my father has coached many things, and always has been passionate about sport. He is kind of a local legend for all the young track and field athletes whom he has coached/mentored over the years. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 shot putters and discus throwers under his tutelage have gone on to be Minnesota State Champions. Additionally, he coached basketball--including an ill-fated junior high school team of mine; and football. He's always loved football. He'd have fight songs and cool helmet logos for the kids on his youth football teams and I remember discussions about the single-wing and other formations. (As a weird aside, my memory of how I heard Elvis Presley had died is very much linked to my father's coaching days. Back then, the local firehouses kindly stored the big barrels of pads and equipment between youth football seasons and we were going to pick up supplies for the coming season. While my dad was inside getting the goods, my mom and I were outside sitting in our 1977 yellow Ford Fiesta and heard over the AM radio that Elvis had died. I remember it as clear as a bell.) Needless to say, from a young age I was taught the values of being on a team, participating, and how to throw a mean, tight spiral, pass. (And while I'm thrilled that rachel Alexandra has made it more than OK to run like a girl, I want it on record that I've never "thrown like a girl.")

So here we are at the first big Sunday of professional football. Ashton Kutcher in one of his tweets today said today was like Christmas Day for grown men, and I think he's right. It's part of the change of seasons and part of the rhythm of our lives, and not just for the boys!

I'll likely check in on a few games today, but my opening night is definitely tomorrow night, and I'll be happily cheering on my New England/Boston Patriots. In the interest of full disclosure, I was a New England Patriots fan even before I started following any other teams. I have a letter from the team in response to a letter I'd sent to Steve Grogan back in 1976. Understand it wasn't easy being a Pats fan (a little girl, no less) in a state of Purple-People-Eater obsessed Viking Fans.

I'll admit it will be hard for me to even see Brett Favre in his Vikings jersey, because I find him to be pretty vapid and I think he's behaved rather badly during all of his retired/not retired/retired sagas. That said, I know many Vikings fans out there will forgive him EVERYTHING if he can deliver them a Super Bowl victory. Yes, VICTORY. Even the most casual of fans out there knows that while the Vikings have been to 4 Super Bowls, they've yet to win one. So if Brett can deliver that, well, he'll no doubt earn a big growl and bear hug from Ragnar and the Viking faithful. (Seriously, Dad, it's okay if you admit that you'd like Brett to win the Vikes a Super Bowl. I understand!!)

I'm excited about the coming season for the Patriots, but I'll be missing Tedy Bruschi. Just his presence on the field was so incredible, he was the heart of the whole squad. He's a great human being first and a great athlete second, and that's what makes him so special. This is the 50th Anniversary Season for the Patriots and expectations are high--well, they're always high in New England--so he will be sorely missed. Thanks, Tedy, for all the grand memories of seasons past. Looking forward to seeing Jerod Mayo stepping up and growing into a larger role.

And if you're confused about the header, The Patriots--and all the original AFL teams--will be using their throwback uniforms, names, etc. for "legacy" games this 50th Anniversary season. I for one am happy to see even a partial return of Pat the Patriot in his tri-cornered hat. And no offense to the rest of greater New England--for I am one of you--but I'm happy to see they'll be the Boston Patriots for a few games this season, too.

Here's Dan Shaughnessy's piece from today's Globe re: the temporary name change, which is fun.

A side note, the Minnesota Golden Gophers downed the Air Force flyboys yesterday in their gorgeous new stadium. Wearing all gold with maroon numbers, they looked more like the Gophers of old. Check out the win (scoring 17 points in the 4th quarter!!) and the new digs HERE, looks like a good time was had by all--all except Air Force, of course! Rah Rah Rah for Ski-U-Mah!!

Happy footballing everyone, may the pigskin be with you and your grid-iron favorites.

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