The person who taught me the most about being a fan didn’t even like my team.
I tell people all the time my love for the Cowboys comes from my mom. And it did.
But it was my father who taught me how to be a fan. How loyalty is paramount.
But first off let me tell you a few things about my dad.
Number one, my father is a Denver Broncos fan. And to tell you the truth I kinda felt sorry for him when I was a kid. He’s a Colorado Buffaloes fan as well. When I was growing up it always seemed like those teams would come close but never win the big one. The University of Colorado saw success in the late ‘80s and mid-‘90s but not enough to justify a lifetime of loyalty. Denver had it’s run of Super Bowl losses when I was in grade school. But he was always there. He almost broke his ankle in excitement after the Miracle at Michigan. Who’s that jumping up and down like he won the Super Bowl after Kordell Stewart’s 64-yard Hail Mary to Michael Westbrook? That’s my dad.
Number two, my father is an extremely loyal person. His loyalty didn’t stop with the Broncos. My father has simple rules: share everything, be honest and always pull for each other. As kids sometimes it’s easy to be a contrarian. But my father was having none of it. We all support each other. It doesn’t matter if it’s bills, school clothes or sports teams. We’re all in this together.
So he accepted that the Broncos weren’t the main attraction in our house. The Cowboys were. Sunday afternoon’s after church we would race home to watch them. We’d stop by KFC, grab some food, my dad would grab a beer or two and we’d watch the game. My father through osmosis became a huge Cowboys fan. For no better reason, than his son and his wife were crazy about them. He loved us. We loved them. He loved them. It made sense to him. And thus my mom and I became huge Broncos fans. We jumped up and down in our living room as John Elway engineered “The Drive.” We bought Super Bowl sweaters and mugs for him when the Broncos finally won a Super Bowl. He cheered during our dynasty and walked us back from the ledge when Jimmy left. We’re all in this together.
Number three, my father didn’t just watch the game – he experienced it as if he were there. Probably the most enduring trait I received from my dad was his intensity while watching the game. My mother and fiancée would probably call it insanity. He really got into it. My dad was a college football player and wrestler and the old juices started to flow during the game. My dad was a humble preacher during the week. A gentle man sharing God’s message to his parishioners. But during the game he was a foul-mouthed, yelling and screaming lunatic. Players who weren’t tough became “pooh-butts” and players who didn’t hustle became other 12-word expletives. He was enthusiastic. He was emotional. He cared about the game. He was the squarest, most straight-laced guy I’ve ever known and one Danny White interception turned him into Richard Pryor. I loved it.
I guess my point is, on this Father’s Day, I’m reflecting on all the things my father gave me and taught me. There are so many. He gave me so much. But right at this time, right at this moment, I’m very appreciative for what he taught me about sports and how that’s affected my life. The Cowboys haven’t won a playoff game in more than 10 years. Our quarterback has been ridiculed for his love life. Our main offensive weapon is one of the most vilified people in sports. We’ve just acquired a player most people regard as a thug and a criminal. But I’m still here. I know we’ll get it done. We’re all in this together.
I learned it from the best.