OK… I am a New England Patriots FANatic, as are most New England Mamas.
And the two weeks since the not-so-Super Bowl for us New Englanders have begun to heal (a tiny bit) what reason cannot.
Don’t get me wrong. I still wake up mornings with that sense of disbelief and, well, broken-heartedness that is our human lot when our hopes and great expectations become promises for perhaps another day, another year.
Oh, and it doesn’t help that one of our very close friends, who is (or was?) a die-hard Steelers fan, now works for the Giants organization and has sent me a little reminder of our loss in about 300 photos, from arriving in Arizona through the New York City parade and everything in-between (yes, he was there for it all). Yes, Doug… it has always been great fun for us to kick Steelers ass, but my wounds are still raw in a Giant sort of way.
I truly miss seeing my favorite guys in red, white and blue and rooting for them on Sunday afternoons and evenings during the fall and long New England winters. Guys like Tedy Bruschi. I love this guy. I love his story. I love his enthusiasm for the game of football. And I love his love of family.
But anyway. Football season is over. Red Sox pitchers and catchers have reported for spring training. And the Providence College men’s basketball team is still hanging on… OK, by a thread, but my husband* and I are fans anyway. Go Friars!
(*my husband Barry grew up listening to the Friars’ games on the radio back in the early ‘60s when his idols like Lenny Wilkens, Johnny Egan and Ray Flynn were playing, and he has lived Friars Basketball ever since… so to now have 2 seats on the floor of The Dunk is more than a dream-come-true. He is kinda like Jack Nicholson at Lakers’ games!)
I love sports so much because it is a great equalizer. Sure, to be great at tennis or golf or perhaps polo, your parents just may have had a few bucks. But I still believe in my heart and soul that most sports greats are guys and girls with a lot of talent and more determination and let’s just say it… sometimes balls, than most others.
This is why I love Tedy Bruschi so much. He is that perfect combination of quiet certainty and heroic humility. I can see why he is an idol to so many New Englanders, as attested by the thousands of fans who wear his jersey.
So how exactly does Tedy Bruschi fit into my conversation of the Providence College Friars? As my husband and I ran to our seats at The Dunk yesterday to watch Providence College (or so we hoped!) redefine Rick Pitino’s day, we were not immediately allowed to get to our seats. Instead, we had to enter from another direction. As we ducked our way along, a fellow season ticket holder and now friend stopped us to introduce us to his guest at the game. As I extended my hand, I realized that Tedy Bruschi was at the other end of it.
Tedy Bruschi. Tedy Bruschi sitting right there next to my husband.
Now, let me just say here that I am not a bothersome fan. I admire from the sidelines, from our section 9 season seats at Fenway Park, from the bleachers if I need to, from the floor of The Dunk, from box seats when I can get them, and/or sitting at a bar or in my family room.
I admire what it takes to become a great athlete. My husband’s childhood dream was to play for the Friars… he ate, walked and slept basketball. But he took a different journey. You know, a few little wise-guy moments that got his grades and his sports dreams all messed up. And my journey was different too. I played basketball and softball as a kid, but ended up cocktail waitressing and jewelry-piece-working my way through college.
By the time we found each other and sparks flew like fireworks, we were both teaching inner-city kids. We knew then that these kids needed dreams and ways to accomplish them… and that became our focus. But we still loved our sports teams. As our own kids came along, we literally saved pennies to take them to Fenway. Or the former Providence Civic Center… now The Dunk. To Boston Garden. To Foxboro Stadium. And all the Halls of Fame. Our sons loved basketball and football, and our daughters excelled in swimming and running.
But back to Tedy Bruschi. So gracious under the scrutiny of thousands of fans. So enthusiastic about the Friars. And sitting right next to us, talking to my husband like he is just another basketball fan.
Then the phone calls. The first one was from a friend. Then my husband’s brother. Then our granddaughter, Taylor. “Wow, Grandpa. I just saw you and Grandma on television sitting next to Tedy Bruschi!” And text messages. It seems that ESPN was covering the game nationwide, and my husband and I got in the frame as Tedy was being filmed.
And then last night everyone asked, “Did you get a photograph with Tedy?”
“Well, no,” we explained. “It didn’t seem appropriate. After all, Tedy was a guest of a friend. That would have been a little tacky of us.”
“Oh, no!” Our five-year old grandson, Andrew, was so horrified that we had no photo that we thought he may never speak to us again.
“Sorry, Little Buddy.”
Then this morning, the phone calls started coming again. “Hey, Sharon. Is that you next to Tedy Bruschi at the PC game?”
And yes, it is! Right there in the sports section of the Providence Sunday Journal. Me and Tedy.
Ah, ha! Not only do I have a coveted photo of one of my all-time favorite sports guys, I can show it to my 2 granddaughters and 5 grandsons (with 2 more on the way!).
So what more of a hero can I be?
I love it.
Thanks, Mike, for bringing Tedy to the game!
Cross-posted at New England Mamas
(photo credit: The Providence Journal / Gretchen Ertl)
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