Bargell: Reasons to be a football fanatic — still
February 5, 2014
Family folklore from my formative years surrounds the acquisition of our first color TV.
The month was January, and you can guess dad's motivation to make the big purchase. It's a good story because the kids think it's fascinating, and somewhat unfathomable, that I watched TV in black and white. Add to that the fact a roomful of people would actually crowd around a 24-inch console and the entire scene seems surreal, even to me. While parts of my memory may be revisionist history because I don't really recall whether it was Super Bowl I or Super Bowl II when we took the color plunge, I do recall the excitement in the air when game time rolled around.
A lot has changed in 48 years. The price of Super Bowl ticket in 1967 was less than $20. A Super Bowl XLVIII ticket topped out at over $3,000 in the scalper's market, though prices dipped to a meager $1,200 closer to game time. In 1967, Vince Lombardi was the head coach of the iconic Green Bay Packers, and a hero of sorts in our household. Being young, I was certain it was no mere coincidence we lived on Lombardy Street. After all, dad coached football, so some greater cosmic force must have been at play.
A decade later I watched the Broncos in their Super Bowl debut on the same console TV. From that game I recall Roger Staubach and the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. Perhaps most vividly, however, I remember Tom Landry — the level-headed, permanently hatted man on the sidelines who also inspired a generation of football players, and fans.
Even though I understand the concern about the outrageous ticket prices, the audacious player salaries and the serious health issues surrounding head injuries, 48 years later I still was drawn to the not-so-small screen on Sunday. Not just for Bruno or the commercials. I was in good company with 111.3 million other viewers. Is there anything meaningful to learn from Super Bowl XLVIII, other than what 48 looks like in roman numerals? A few lessons come to mind.
The girls had seen Richard Sherman rant his way to fame after the NFC conference championship game. In his Super Bowl pregame interview a more subdued Sherman came across as a level-headed, articulate young man. More important than his appearance however was Sherman's admission the attack on an opposing team member was uncalled for, something he would take back if he could. There's no telling if Sherman stemmed the unraveling of his reputation, but he at least owned his behavior, and admitted publicly that his emotional attack was misplaced. Maybe the kids — we all — will learn that it's important to acknowledge a mistake, and to recognize when we can do better.
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The words of the young Seattle quarterback also are a keeper. When Russell Wilson spoke of his deceased father, he mentioned his dad's recurrent question to his son about greatness. "Why not you, Russ?" his dad used to ask. Both father and son reminded me that it's OK to encourage our kids to dream big, while taking into account the dedication and effort needed to make the dreams come true.
And finally, what to learn from our home team's less-than-stellar performance? Perhaps that even the biggest dreamers can have an off day, and that it's not the down times that must be defining. Coach Landry would advise that "something constructive comes from every defeat." And the colorful Lombardi would likely quip, "It's not whether you get knocked down; it's whether you get up."
I don't know if pop could have imagined watching Super Bowl XLVIII on a 72-inch flat screen, or seeing a 37-year-old quarterback become the league's MVP, but he'd surely agree that we should take the best lessons we can from the game, because we may be learning them for 50 years yet to come.
Cindy Bargell is an attorney and mom who lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
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