Most of the time watching professional sports, any sport, in the regular season is just a monotonous grind for me. I know that there are athletes performing unfathomable feats during the course of any professional season. But television is just so saturated with this stuff that my mind has to have some relief. And I truly think the athletes themselves need more of a break than they get.
The seasons have become incredibly long and the punishment reaked upon the bodies of both men and women makes them become very ordinary at times as well as disinterested. That is the hardest for me to take …………….
But when the playoffs come around I love the second seasons. These people play hurt, they play with reckless abandon, and they entertain us with the best of the best. And no sport lights my fire any more than professional football. The speed, power, and precision under pressure of these guys is truly in itself another wonder of this world……………………
When I was a kid I could hardly wait for the NFL season to start. The 1958 World Championship game between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants, still regarded as the greatest game ever, had mesmerized me just like any football fan across America. The victorious Colts behind Hall of Famer to be, Johnny Unitas, won in overtime by a 23-17 score.
I remain a fan of pro football; however, when the Colts traded Johnny U. to the Chargers, and then when owner Robert Irsay so cowardly moved them to Indianapolis in the middle of the night, my love of this game was severely damaged. The business end and love of money made me realize that the innocence that I had always believe surrounded this sport was gone…………………..
However, in 2009 I talked my wife into a road trip that would eventually land us in Canton,Ohio, home of the revered Pro Football Hall of Fame. Besides the fact that my wife is also a fan of pro football, she was also promised that we would swing throughVirginia and visit the Thomas Jefferson plantation known as Monticello. What a great trip that turned out to be…………………..
When we arrived at the Hall, it was if all the great ones in there was just staring at us and waiting for us to come inside. Naturally, my first order of business was to find the bust of #19 Johnny U. I found it and read everything I could find about the legend that endeared me to the game of football.
Soon afterwards I would seek out number two on my hero list: Earl Campbell. The hard charging running back via, Tyler, Texas, the University of Texas, and finally the Houston Oiler was without a doubt in my mind (maybe yours, but not mine) the greatest ball carrier in the history of the game…………………….
There were so many phenomenal athletes whose greatest exploits on the grid iron were so well documented that it would take more than one day to cover. I wanted it all but just didn’t have the time.
One of the athletes who is not enshrined in the Hall but whose role in the undefeated season, and the only undefeated season in the history of pro football, of the Miami Dolphins was documented and had special meaning for me. That was Eugene“Mercury” Morris who had been aPennsylvania schoolboy standout before an All-American career at West Texas State U. in Canyon. I was a student on that campus at the time and was lucky enough to call Mercury Morris my friend………………..
Being a lifetime fan of the Dallas Cowboys, especially in the Tom Landry, Tex Schramm, Roger Staubach, etc. era, my wife Mona enjoyed all that she could handle reading about and watching film clips of “The Boys.” And yes, her favorite, #8 himself Troy Aikman, through film clips and interviews proved to be a seemingly endless delight for her……….
It goes without saying that the Hall of Fame for professional football is loaded with a seemingly endless amount of information and entertainment. I pretty much started off with Red Grange and ended my tour with many of the Cowboys, especially those teammates of Troy Aikman. It was great reading about the legends of the game that had captured my attention for so many years…………………
And now as I once again find myself combing through the sports pages and TV guides to find the starting times and correct channel for the next playoff game, I also find myself wondering which of the active players will someday be called to the stage to accept induction into the Hall of Fame. Just looking at a list of this very very select group of men tends to seem lengthy, but when considering how many have played this game professionally, that number really does tell any fan how very special this group really is……………………
So all you rabid fans of pro football, put a trip to Canton,Ohio on your bucket list. You will not be disappointed and as much as you may think that you know about pro football let me assure you, that place will reveal just how much you don’t know. I feel very lucky to have visited but more than that I feel lucky to have seen the majority of the members perform those unbelievable feats that have provided me with both jubilation and heartbreak. But most of all they have provided me with a lifetime of memories ………RC