People that didn’t grow up in football houses never quite understand my relationship with the game.
I’d never identify myself as a football fan. A baseball fan certainly, a tennis fan, absolutely, but I’d never say I was a football fan.
It’s much deeper than that.
Football is just a part of things in my house. My grandfather is a Giants season ticket holder. Anyone who knows anything about football knows how rare that is. Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor were the first celebrity names I knew. We were a football house. My brother played football, my sister and I were cheerleaders.
I’m very proud of having been a cheerleader. It’s a strangely unfeminist thing to say, but I think it’s important. Not that little girls shouldn’t be allowed to play football if they so choose, or little boys shouldn’t be allowed to be cheerleaders if they so choose, but there’s something strengthening about cheerleading. It teaches you how to be a part of something without being the main event. If there’s anything that children and teenagers need to learn it’s that they can contribute without being the center of attention.
I spent every fall weekend of my life from kindergarten through eighth grade at football games. By high school I was fed up, so my parents stopped making me go. I’d chosen musical theatre over cheering, and still attended the occasional Friday night game when the boys schools that my friends attended played each other. But for the most part I felt free of football, and it felt great.
But sometime in December of 2007, that changed. I was a sophomore in college, and I started to really miss football. My college didn’t have a football team, and was in a small city that didn’t have an NFL team. For the first time in my life, football wasn’t a presence in my life, and I really missed it.
It also didn’t hurt that my family’s beloved New York Giants were on fire. Watching football became fun and exciting in a way it hadn’t been for me since I was a little kid.
Then the impossible happened. That February the Giants entered the Superbowl, and defeated the undefeated New England Patriots. Everyone was flabbergasted. How had it happened? How had Eli Manning, who’d always been talked about as sloppy, as champion Peyton’s less than little brother, beaten Tom Brady, probably the best quarterback of this generation? I still don’t know.
But I did know that I was excited about football again. The next season I went out of the way to watch every Giant game. When the season was less than stellar I started following The Indianapolis Colts (I love my Manning boys!) and The New Orleans Saints.
Yesterday was the first Sunday of the Football season. The Giants weren’t playing. They already celebrated their Superbowl victory by losing spectacularly to the Dallas Cowboys (Booo) on Wednesday. But I still woke up, watched two episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer took a shower, threw on a pair of leggings and my Peyton Manning Colts jersey (now defunct, as Peyton plays for the Denver Broncos.) and trotted downstairs. Until February, this is how I’m going to be dressed every Sunday. Though I will be wearing either my Eli Manning jersey, or my Victor Cruz jersey.
It’s football season readers.
And I’m going to fangirl all over it.