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Day 56: Into the Packers’ Den

October 3, 2010

This day was a buck before it had a chance to begin.  A visit to my father-in-law on a college football Saturday is an instant strike against Year Without Football.  But it wasn’t for lack of effort.

Rick is a wonderful father-in-law with whom I share a level of interest in sports.  A longtime oilfield worker, sports are his release from the daily grind.  Born, raised and settled in the Taft area, his allegiances are connected by happenstance more than geography.  He follows UCLA athletics because their Medical Center performed the critical operations during my wife’s infancy that saved her life.  He became a Padres fan due to frustration with Dodgers management in the 80s.

Then there’s the Packers.

The Packers were the dominant team in Rick’s childhood, winning the first two Super Bowls.  They boasted the American ideals of hard work and crafty management.  They were the most accessible team in those days as they appeared on more national television broadcasts than anyone else (part of the reason you see so many Notre Dame fans across the country).  In the late 60s, a period when a young population was revolting against its government and our species began to explore off-world environments, the Packers served as a grounded reminder that some things will continue on as they always have.

The connection remains today.

This was the first visit I had made since officially beginning the Year Without Football, and the scope of what I would face was made immediately evident by the brand new Packers welcome mat placed at the foot of the front door.  Wow…+1 to the SPCA before I even enter the house.

When you do enter the house, you are greeted with symbols of Rick’s dedication.

We arrived about 2 hours before UCLA’s kick-off against Washington State…sacrosanct time at Rick’s house.  He began to habitually flip through some of the channels to check out some of the other games in action…I think I saw Northern Illinois in one, and a Northwestern/Minnesota showdown in another but I could be wrong.  I guess yesterday was the unofficial “Red State National Holiday” where the big rivalries like Texas/Oklahoma and Florida/Alabama took center stage, but I couldn’t tell you who won.

As he flipped through, conversation turned to Year Without Football.  He was surprised to hear the mentions by Sports Illustrated and Slate.com and was surprised by the overall response the task had received.  Without asking, he flipped over to the MLB Network, which was running a marathon of “Top Plays of the Month.”  MLB doesn’t get enough credit for the quality of their broadcasts and later in the year I’d like to review some of the shows on the other networks that people SHOULD be watching.  They ran 50 plays in a half-hour, Pop-Up Video style, and by the end of the program you not only got to see some wildly athletic action but had a clear sense of how the league played out that particular month.  Rick made mention of his impending disappointment in the Padres’ stretch run, feeling they needed to sweep the Giants to have a shot at the playoffs and noted he’d only flip over occasionally since the pennant race directly conflicted with UCLA.

I quietly appreciated the accommodation as we departed back to town just after kick-off.  Our worlds, wildly different within the sports realm, briefly intertwined before he attended to the Pac-10 while I hurried back to catch the Northeastern Huskies men’s hockey exhibition game.  I’m entering a season where college hockey puts much of the other sports on the backburner.  Aussie Rules came to a wild conclusion, the English Premier League might end up being a runaway just 7 weeks in and the MLB postseason will take center stage until November.

This may have been the last chance during the Year Without Football to get caught up, to sneak a peek at the world which I had exiled myself from.  Surprisingly, I had no desire to do so.

DR

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