When My Team Doesn’t Suck, They Are Great!

I Want My Spine, I Want My Orange Crush

In my 8th grade year, 1977, I began the decades long process of suffering through four Super Bowl losses with my beloved Denver Broncos football team.  As an adolescent watching the Broncos loose to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XII, I was devastated.  That first Super Bowl loss led me to some of my earliest experiences with rage and real depression.  Within a few days though, I was over it and was soon back to my life of being a smart ass kid and a poor student. 

As a young adult I didn’t handle Denver’s Super Bowl and playoff losses nearly as well.  Subsequent to each of the next three Super Bowl losses, and the multiple playoff losses through the 1980s and 1990s, there were always weeks of anger, rage, depression, and an accompanying persona of profound grumpitude.  My friends and family didn’t like me much after those losses.  Bronco football was more than entertainment or a distraction for me.  My blood is orange and blue.  When it came to wining the biggest game though, the Super Bowl, the Broncos treated me like a bed-wetting puppy and beat the love right out of me.

Elway Or The Highway

Twenty years after my first taste of a sports fan’s blues, the tide finally turned.  In what we can all acknowledge as professional football’s finest hour, the Denver Broncos beat the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII.  When John Elway lowered his shoulder into the Green Bay secondary late in the 4th quarter, it became clear that a team of destiny had just arrived.  After that play, my wife had to stop my brother and me from going outside, starting fires, and tipping over cars – we were that excited.

Two days after Denver’s first Super Bowl victory, I had the pleasure of telling my 7-year old daughter there would be no school that day.  Rather, we would spend the day on the streets of downtown Denver, celebrating the first Bronco Super Bowl victory with 500,000 of our closest friends – and we did.  Not even Pope John Paul II attracted that many spectators for World Youth Day in Denver 5 years earlier.  The Broncos victory parade outdrew the Pope!  Yes, we are that religious about the Broncos in Denver.

A year later, Denver won the Super Bowl again and another parade was had.  Soon after, John Elway would retire, there would be several significant player and coaching changes and Denver, a perennial playoff team, would settle into a decade’s worth of football mediocrity. 

Nothing To Do With Tebow

Two weeks ago the Broncos beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in competitive yet convincing style, to advance in the AFC playoffs.  It was the most exciting, and most important game Denver had played in 14 years.  I wept after the game’s sudden-death overtime conclusion.  I wept, not because the Broncos had won.  Not because Tim Tebow had played the best game of his young career.  I wept because I immediately envisioned my brother, now with school age children of his own, perhaps taking them to yet another Bronco Super Bowl parade.  I wanted for his family, the joy I had shared with mine years earlier.

This past Saturday evening the Broncos were easily dismantled by the New England Patriots.  I could see the game was over within the first 5 minutes.  As the game continued it got exponentially worse.  “Exponentially worse”, to quote Lewis Black, means to get “crappier and crappier and crappier”.  As the impending loss grew more evident, I got better and better with it.  There was a bit of sadness to be sure, but unlike the playoff and Super Bowl losses of my young adult life which depressed me and affected me to the point of outright temper tantrums, I was good with this loss immediately.

Why The Change In Attitude…?

Was I less of a fan now?  Was I better at managing stress?  Did I simply have too many other things going on in my life to be upset by bad football anymore?  The answer to each of these is a partial yes.  But I am still a Denver Bronco fan.  I have worn my Broncos hoody almost every day this season.  I love my team.  The reasons I got good with the Bronco loss so quickly are thus; age and perspective.  Age has provided me time to develop perspective. 

From Orton to Tebow, I wore this every single day...

Much has happened since Denver won Super Bowl XXXII.  The illnesses and unexpected deaths of several good friends have happened.  9/11 happened.  A couple of unnecessary wars happened.  Terror attacks all over the world happened.  Partisan politics has increased.  The combat death of soldier and former NFL player, Pat Tillman happened.  That one is worth repeating; the combat death of soldier and former NFL player, Pat Tillman happened.

In short, I was quick to remember that football is only a game.  It’s only a game.  I have heard that tired cliché so many times in my life as a sports fan, but I have never truly felt it until this week.  As the defeated Broncos walked off the field in Foxborough, MA last Saturday evening, I was able to feel that it’s only a game.  As I let the sadness fall away, and as I continued to watch the players walk off the field, I thought of my father, also a Bronco fan. 

Though my father had planned to watch the Broncos play the Patriots, he could not.  A few days earlier, he suffered a heart attack and was in the ICU of a Las Vegas hospital.  He is also battling pneumonia and weak kidneys.  It’s only a game.  Though his condition is improving, I am grateful my father was unable to watch the Broncos lose.  Also a Bronco fan, I’m not sure his heart would not have survived this loss.  It’s only a game Dad, it’s only a game.  Be well.  rc

Please check back in two weeks to see what comes out when I hit the “stop” button on the blender of my head.  Oh, and there is this from Little Feat, enjoy…

I Blame Me: A Relationship Story…

Not A Good Year

I’m not lying, this has been the worst year of my entire life; dark, drunk, and trying.  And when I say, “trying”, I don’t mean the year has taken its toll.  I mean I have truly tried.  I have given my all to a relationship which I knew early on could not give back.  Still, I put on my blinders and lowered my shoulder into the future.  With few expectations but irrepressible dreams, I worked hard at it.  She did too.

This year I have been in bed sick far too often.  I have missed too much work.  I have had too much to drink.  I have shed too many years.  I have also turned my back too often on many who care about me.  In short, this year was just like last year, the year before that, and the year before that.  You know, all the years since the day she and I met.

I Blame Me

It started over four years ago when I fell in-love and gave my heart to someone I deemed special beyond words – and she is.  The pedestal I built was not strong enough though, to support the idol I had created in my head.  And there I prayed, every day and most moments of my life, to the woman I placed well above me.  Rarely, I now see in hind-sight, did she ever pray back, or even look down.  

But that’s not her fault, she had other things to occupy her prayers and her eyes; two daughters.  Though her girls would never come to accept me, I can’t blame her for that either.  I soon knew though, that the interest of her daughters would be the critical weakness in our relationship.  She convinced me it would not be.  I leapt.

What does it say about me, or about the ideal of love, that just a few months in, when I first recognized a potential weakness in the relationship, one which I knew we would not likely survive, that I still charged it full steam, for years…?  Again, that’s on me.  She’s a good person with a good heart and fairytale eyes, but I knew better.  Second families rarely work, and her family would be second to no one.

Everyone Needs A Hobby

I do many things wrong, but I think I do partnership pretty well.  I may be a hard person to love, but at the end of the day I give plenty of reasons to hang on tight.  I always thought that would be enough – to be emotionally present, with no expectation of an equal return.  But she couldn’t be as present, her hands were tied.  She did the best she could under the circumstances, but the immense gravity of this conflicted dynamic pulled her into the event horizon.

My Own Daughter

In all of this, what most saddens me is the effort, time, and money diverted away from what should have been my biggest priority – my own daughter.  This is not to suggest that I woke up one day after falling in love, placed my daughter on an iceberg, and clipped a note clipped to her collar reading, “If found, handle with care”, and pushed her out to sea.  But I did leave a large helping of woulda shoulda coulda on the table during the course of this now failed relationship.

When I look back at potential moments lost, I shudder.  I could have been so much better as a father.  My daughter is better than me though.  She’ll learn from my mistakes even if I might not.  My daughter often referred to my would-be marriage as, “the epic fail”, but she always supported it, and did so sincerely.

The Point Of Friendships

I wouldn’t know many of my Facebook friends if they bit me on the ass and called me Jew-boy.  Nor would they know me as much.  But I will bet that if I asked many of them to be there for me in a time of need, and if it were within their grasp to do so, they would accommodate.  And I like to think the same is true in reverse.    

My partner of four years was there for me when she could be, but it was scarcely at best.  When I needed her most though, at critical times to stand up for us and help stake our claim to our future, she was silent.  One lesson learned is that in my next love, if there is a next love, at the first sound of such silence, I will tuck my tail between my legs, back away slowly with one eye looking forward and one eye back, and just keep stepping. 

At Best, At Worst

At best, I am a hopeful romantic and as my friend Robert says, probably too nice a guy. I believe in love, marriage, and I don’t want to grow old alone.  I don’t always have high expectations of romance, and I’m not looking for someone to save me from myself.  But there are times, like many, I want to hit my next relationship out of the park.

At worst, I’m the kind of guy who is willing to just keep hitting his head on the door-jam – over and over again, hoping there is something meaningful on the other side.  Next time out, I will hope to remember the door-jam is almost always too low, and what’s on the other side is seldom enough.  Be well.  rc

Comments are closed this week.

Please check back in two weeks for whatever happens next when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there it this from Micky Braun of Micky And The Motor Cars.  Enjoy…

Idea Handlers…

First Hopes

I doubt there are many new parents who hope their children will grow up to be out shape and unintelligent.  So to avoid obesity and stupidity, we immediately place our children into structure.  From their earliest days we expose our children to school and to sports – keep ‘em off the streets kinda stuff.  School is required by law.  Sport is required by the law of  perceived status.  So it begins; formation by institutionalization.  It’s hard to argue against structure.  I mean, everything we have as a society we owe to structure, I guess… 

I often say that worst unintended consequence of advancement is… a lack of advancement.  And though keeping our children embedded in structure is a good idea, some good ideas often clash with other good ideas, choking out better ideas still.  As a species, I’m not so sure we’re very good handlers of good ideas. 

When Structure Gives Way To Structure: Back Seat Homework

A weary child sits in the back seat of an SUV while mom navigates the fast food drive through.  The child is sweaty but cooling off.  He is perhaps 7 or 15 years old, or any age in-between.  Dressed in his team uniform, having just left the game or the practice that took place right after school, his mom orders their dinner into the microphone at the base of the menu display. 

Only partially exhausted, they head now to the next game or practice of this two-sport athlete.  The child stares at a schoolbook on one knee, perhaps taking notes on a spiral notebook balanced on the other knee.  This is the room where homework is done – the back seat of the car.  Beside him is the other uniform, the one he will change into for the next game or practice he will be attending.  He fuels his body with a #6 value meal while mom continues driving and texting.

What Gets Lost In The Balancing Act

He may be playing for the love of the games.  He may be playing because his parents would rather see him in sports than in front of the TV.  One of these sports may be the child’s future – his ticket into college or scholarship money.  Regardless of whose choice it is or why, I’ll suggest that many children will only tell their parents what they think they want to hear about all of this.  And many parents will only tell their children what they should believe about all of this.  I’ll suggest though, that there is probably not as much fruitful discourse as there should be about all of this. 

Leadership, listening, learning, and respect; these all important virtues learned from the structure of youth sports.  I believe in youth sports.  I have played them and I have coached them.  I have also spent a great deal of time listening to prep athletes and their views on all of this, as I help them become better at their sports.  As well, I have listened to a lot of their parent’s views on all of this as I help them become more fit adults.  When I attempt to correlate some of these conversations, between parent view and athlete view, they don’t always jive.

Make no mistake I have seen some teenagers handle this multi-sport lifestyle with grace and academic success, as well as success in their sport.  But from my view, it’s not usually this way.  Many who live this life are weary, socially awkward, and conflicted with their parents about how their lives should be lived.

And It’s Not Just Sports

I used youth sports here because it’s something I’m close to by way of how I earn my living.  But this kind of overload is widespread.  It is clubs too; music, drama, and other activities – any avenues which offer the structure that the parents may not be willing to create, implement, or foster themselves.  I mean, we all know that without an overload of structure, our children become junkies and thieves, yes…?

What Gets Missed

“I can’t remember the last time I ate a home cooked meal.”

Those words were spoken to me last year by an athlete I do strength and conditioning work with.  She continued that when she did eat at home, meals always came from a can or box, and that she felt the drive-through food was usually better tasting and healthier.

As parents we emphasize college and we emphasize activity – and it’s important that we do, especially when we view the children of parents who don’t emphasize these.  I am wondering more and more though, as good ideas clash with other good ideas, canceling out other ideas still, when will we begin to emphasize home cooked meals, homework done at a desk, time to play and be social, as well as time to veg…?  The beast of structure has been let out, he’s hungry, and he feeds on families.  As a species, I’m just not sure we are good idea handlers.  Some food for thought…  Be well.   

Please check back in two weeks for more thoughts on the philosophy behind the fitness.  Oh, and there is this from Slightly Stoopid.  Enjoy…