Football Season At Last

Quote of the Day:

Time, as we age, is often damaging. But this was one of the Lord’s good days, resting for me forever in a kind of somnolent tenderness. I was thirteen and it was a golden, luminous November’s afternoon, my first Ole Miss-Mississippi State game in person.”     —Willie Morris, from the essay linked here, published several times over the years by the Clarion Ledger

As a kid, there were only two seasons to TB, football and baseball. Basketball was ok as a mid term diversion, and year round driveway sport, but each year was truly separated by a single bright line between the diamond and the gridiron. Since the cancellation of the 1995 Major League World Series, along with the way the pastime has changed due to steroids and other factors, I’ve lost interest in baseball altogether. Now, as a sports fan at least, there are still only two seasons–football and emptiness. And finally, football is back.

I don’t know why I haven’t given up on football. I am a Mississippi State fan and I can’t shake it. It’s not easy pulling for the Bulldogs. And that’s all I got to say about that, for now. Sundays are little better. The Dolphins broke my heart for years coming close to greatness, but never achieving it, then plummeted to the bottom of the League and became all but irrelevant. And the Saints……hopeless.  Yet for no rational reason, I always cling to hope for all of my teams.

My earliest memory of football is of an afternoon game between the Vikings and the Bills and snow on the field and brightly colored uniforms and OJ Simpson. The memory is only a grainy picture in my mind’s eye, one I can not even swear is true. But when I call that picture up, I feel the excitement and joy first experienced at probably two or three years of age. The memories of Super Bowls X and XI are a little more in focus. I can recall rooting for the doomed Cowboys but loving Lynn Swann and trying to recreate his famous reception from X in my front yard for days weeks years after. What I recall from XI is mainly  that the pregame show seemed interminable. It probably went on for an hour.

I loved the uniforms from those games, and all games and still do. And as a small kid I recall choosing my team each game based on the jerseys, never pulling for the white shirts. Imagine young TB’s distress in having to choose between blue jerseyed UCLA or crimson Alabama in the 1976 Liberty Bowl. Thanks to the Google, I was actually able to confirm that hazy memory was true! Though the recollection doesn’t cover it, I have little doubt I liked the UCLA blue better and true to my football fandom lifetime, the blue fell to the red that night 36 to 6.

The first real college game I ever saw live was Mississippi State at Auburn in 1977 in Auburn. I recall very little about the game itself, only that the Bulldogs won but that it didn’t matter because they would have to forfeit for using an ineligible player. But the experience left an impression. It’s funny what I do recall from that day–learning about interstate mile markers, seeing Pat Sullivan’s Heisman trophy, walking on Auburn’s basketball floor, loving the way Auburn fans intoned “Warrrrr Eagle” for kickoffs and, tragicomically, firmly deciding I was a Bulldog fan, uniforms be damned.

Before and after that Auburn-State game, my exposure to college football came mainly from the Senior Bowl, played each January in Mobile, Alabama. Again, the things that stand out from these early trips are random and inexplicable. Stopping on the side of the road to eat cold sausage and biscuits left over from breakfast, burgers with only mustard, collecting a new pennant for my bedroom wall to go with those inherited from my brother from his trips as a little kid, freezing, brutal cold all come to mind. I learned at these games that southerners used college football to re-fight the Civil War. And far too often we lost again, at least it seemed so in those early years. On my first Senior Bowl trip, I remember crying when all hope was lost. And I recall that my Dad didn’t care for that at all.

As I complete this abbreviated tour with the ghost of football seasons past, I am confronted with a bitter truth. My love of football season is unrequited. Or is it? What stands out as I look over my recollections is that the scores are mostly forgotten. The excitement remains. The experience endures. And I still have hope. And a good 40 more chances, give or take, to see the Saints in the Super Bowl and dare I say, the Bulldogs in the Sug–nah, I daren’t.

About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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15 Responses to Football Season At Last

  1. smilyj says:

    It has been unseasonably cool a few mornings down here. I always equate that type of weather with football. As soon as I step outside, I feel it and think, “This feels like football weather.” It really gets me in the mood. Go Bullies! F*#k Omiss. ……..and bama too.

  2. I almost needed a light jacket last night. It’s amazing. You cannot almost “smell” football season in the air.

  3. Jessie Lou says:

    I love, love, love high school football and have 2 games down already since the season started early. PHS improved drastically over the week and won last Friday after loosing to Gautier. I love college football very much but only tolerate pro. 2 games standout in my memory of Pro Sports- a playoff game between the Dolphins and San Diego around 1980 – something like double overtime and it was exciting! And my first Saints game in the old Tulane stadium where they played the Jets and Joe Namath was there. Also believe that may have been my first/second visit to the French Quarter which was an eye opener.

    That said none of this can compare to seeing Irvine Redd make the catch of a life time on the 5 yard line of Wayne County in September 2001- it was a 45-50 yard pass if memory serves – he can correct me. It was Beautiful~!

  4. irvineredd says:

    That was nice, if I do say so myself, JL. Although, I got chewed out immediately after it for not scoring. It didn’t matter that I made a fairly tremendous, Willy Mays style over the shoulder catch, to the aptly named, Coach Cox. Of course he should be thankful that he dealt with young, respectful IR, as opposed to the present version of myself, who most likely would have been kicked off the team immediately for a profanity laden verbal beat down.

  5. Jessie Lou says:

    As you know yourself, Coach Cox should be a pile of ash after my laser beam stare at him. It was you who put a stop to that beeline I had out for him.

    TB – something I always told IR was never to cry until you got into the car at the very least. If you could make it home so much the better.

  6. There ought to be some video footage of that catch somewhere. If so, it needs to go on youtube, thence to TB.

  7. irvineredd says:

    Video does exist actually, but I think I only have a VHS copy.

  8. Jessie Lou says:

    I hope you have it vs. thinking I have it because all of that is gone from down here.

  9. irvineredd says:

    I think I do, but no real clue of its where-a-bouts

  10. face says:

    Along those lines, does anyone know an easy way to convert VHS tapes to youtube?

  11. irvineredd says:

    Not a clue. I imagine you’d have to convert it into DVD format first, and then you could put it on your computer. Of course how to do that is beyond me.

  12. This is one of my favorite topics, and I could write a chapter on fall, football, and childhood memories of same. But I don’t have enough time right now.

    So, for now, I have this: I love football. I love fall. I have good memories of fall and football as a child.

  13. Samsmama says:

    Hmmm…a football post. Yeah, I got nothin’. But I wanted my presence here to be known. Because I’m a loyal follower like that.

  14. SM you’re gonna love thursdays…..but tune in anyway and participate. I think you will have fun.

  15. quail09 says:

    JessieLouise……”loosing to gautier”????…..loosing?

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