We are not Jim and John.
Neither of us coach the Baltimore Ravens or the San Francisco 49ers.
We never played in the NFL. We live vicariously through players like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, Arian Foster and Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson, imagining every Sunday, placing ourselves in the cleats, pads and jerseys of the games greats, deriving an entire range of emotion based on their performance.
With the 2012 NFL season coming to an end, my brother and I will join forces for one final Sunday, as we’ll sit side-by-side watching Super Bowl XLVII.
We will not have a rooting interest. Maybe we’ll have a monetary interest. (Hey, it’s the Super Bowl). But one thing is for sure, for those sixty minutes, when those players are on the field, there is no better distraction from reality and a safe haven from life than watching a National Football League game.
And there is no better time for my brother, Brian and myself, to need a distraction than now.
Six months ago my father was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. Faced with the battle of his life, much bigger than any battle within the trenches, or in the secondary, our darkest thoughts have become a nightmarish reality.
Our world changed forever. Our lives never the same. A new perspective now put on life.
On February 3rd, Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis will make multiple tackles that will make a difference. Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick will entertain, and two brothers will vie for the title of Super Bowl Champion.
On February 3rd, our lives will be put on hold because we have a game to watch.
We’ve heard many times that sports offer us a distraction.
As a New Yorker, with the attacks of September 11th in the backburner, American turned to professional sports as a safe haven. New Yorkers turned to the Yankees, and Yankee fans turned to Derek Jeter to lift their spirits during the days, weeks and months after that horrific tragedy that changed the landscape of lower Manhattan forever.
Sports helped us heal through a time of tragedy and allowed us to take our minds off a grimmer reality. For those few hours while your eyes are focused on the idols you have grown up watching, you find yourself not understanding what is real and what is fantasy.
And there is nothing wrong with that.
From time-to-time, sports also offers us an outlet to express things from our own lives that we might not wish to deal with in a head-on manner.
Every morning, when I wake up, and every night before I go to sleep, I see a purple bracelet on my left wrist with the words, “No ONE Fights Alone.”
Just as on the football field, the battle against cancer is fought as a team, and as a family.
For 29 years, my father has been there for me. For 33 years, my father has been there for my brother. Now it’s time we’re there for him.
But on February 3rd, when the voice of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms echoes throughout the room, for that split second, my brother and I will be acting as if we live in a perfect world, and that my father is perfectly healthy.
We’ll be wondering what the next play will be? Or, what the next Super Bowl commercial is?
We’re attracted to sports because of its role as a distraction based on what athletes do, how they perform, and whether your team wins or loss. But after getting the news on July 2nd, 2012 that our lives will never be the same again, football has become more than just a game.
Life isn’t perfect, and well all know this. My father isn’t getting healthy over night. That my brother and I know.
But on Sunday around 6:30 EST, when it’s time for kickoff, although our lives have changed forever, there has always been one constant, and that has been the game of football.
On Sunday, the Ravens and Niners will not know my brother and I are watching. They don’t even know who we are.
But there is no other place I’d rather be on Sunday, than next to my brother watching the greatest game in the world.
Because for those three hours, we’re going to pretend that all is okay in the world, and for us, there is nothing wrong with that.
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