Monday, February 7, 2011

How my team losing the Super Bowl healed a piece of my heart.

Now if anyone is actually reading this I am sure you are skeptical of how my team losing could do any good for me. I know it sounds crazy but if you stick around until the end of this story you will understand. See I am a thirty-three year old husband, father, writer and sports nut and if someone told me five years ago that one of my greatest moments of my life would happen while my team was losing the Super Bowl, I would have told them they were nuts and pictured myself in a quiet anger filled trance staring at my TV as my team was losing. To give you a little background on me I was raised in a family that followed their sports teams like they were watching their own family members play the games. The stars of these teams were referred to by their first names and when I was a kid I would send Christmas cards to the players I loved hoping that they would receive them and with some Christmas spirit maybe they would send a card back to me. (Only one ever did, a baseball player that I had never heard of at the time but he had thrown me a foul ball at a game, Tim Raines.) Sports was something that helped raise me, something that had help build my resolve, my passion and my belief that if I worked hard I could do anything in life. Just like Michael Jordan seemed to lift an entire sport on his back, if I believed in myself I could do anything. I need what sports gave to me and my entire life I have rooted hard for my teams, I have cried when they lost, I have jumped for joy when they have won, I have seen my teams win championships, lose championships, play amazing games and play like they had just been introduced to the sport. In a nutshell my teams were like family to me. They had helped raise me after all as I come from a family that was broken apart by a tragedy leaving me longing for what I realized I had finally achieved on Super Bowl Sunday as my team the Pittsburgh Steelers lost the biggest game of the year. The tragedy that would shape my life forever and lead me to today happened on June 18th, 1978 just as summer came to Ohio to fill the air full of the scent of flowers and fresh cut grass and of course the best smell of summer a neighborhood grill that is cooking that nights dinner. But on this day in my small little town a rain storm would move in that would leave me broken for most of my life. The day for me is just a moment in time for it happened just sixteen days after my first birthday but the story goes like this. My parents were taking our family to a Father's Day picnic at a local park to celebrate with family and friends. My Dad who fancied himself like most men a master of the grill was making the burgers and hot dogs with his best friend probably swapping stories about work, sports, his new son (me) and telling the famous tales about playing baseball for a short time with the Pirates. Unfortunately the picnic would be cut short like many that day across Ohio as major storms ripped apart the state. I believe there were 50+ tornadoes that touched down that day. My parents did not see a tornado that day although I wish that they had. Instead my father had no warning as a bolt would end not only the grilling that he was a master of, but in fact it would end his whole life. That day shaped who I was as I lost the moments with my dad that I witnessed all of my other friends having as we grew up. With my mom having to work all the time I was left in the hands of three sources of learning; school, television and sports. The three would shape and sew the very fabric of my morals into my soul. Sports taught me to play like a champion and to never give up. Television taught me values such as right from wrong as well as my favorite lesson of all which is that as long as you have a cool car with a flag on its roof you can run from the cops while transporting moonshine for your Uncle Jesse and all will be forgiven. (I kid, I kid) And in school I learned history, math, science, English and how to play crab soccer. All of these things shaped me into the man I have become. Although each of these items I hold dear to my heart, I have always teared up at touching moments on TV between fathers and their children, I have always longed for my father who I have written many poems about and overall I have dreamt of the day that I would get to experience those moments that I had watched my friends share with their Dads. Which brings me to my point in all this random rambling, last night as I sat in my chair with my pulse racing after my Steelers scored to cut the Packers lead to 21-10 something happened that will forever change my life and who I am as a man. I sat back just hoping for another come from behind win to secure title number 7 for a team that I have watched since I was in diapers. But on this night it was not about the Lombardi trophy for me or my team as they would fight hard and never give up but ultimately fall to the Packers in a great game. No instead there was a greater meaning for me on this night as although my team would not be hoisting a trophy I would find myself holding something equivalent in my arms to a championship. On this night I would taste one of those moments that I had longed for as a child and no matter the outcome of this one game my heart would heal just a little bit more from the day the rains came and washed away my dad.

In this one moment I felt 33 years of wonder come crashing down on my heart like the waves that beat down upon our shores. Although it hurt that the Steelers would go on and lose that game, I realized a dream that I had longed for my whole life. As I held my baby girl in my arms, I realized that on this night I was a champion.


  1. Absolutely beautiful and moving blog post! Thank you so much for sharing!


  2. Chris you have an amazing talent and have always had a way with words. Thank you for helping me remember the wonderful Chris I have always known! I love you and am very happy for you!!