Christmas Tree Story #6: Greatest Game in the World. Of course the answer is football! I grew up in West Texas (San Angelo) and it was Dallas Cowboys all the time. I was a Cowboys fan for as long as I can remember. The first game that I actually remember watching was Super Bowl V (5) on January 17, 1971. I was 10 years old and was crushed when the Baltimore Colts beat my Dallas Cowboys 16-13. For me, professional football (and the Cowboys) has always been about my relationship with my father. He was a disabled veteran and was pretty much home bound until his death in 1977. We would sit in our living room and watch the games together. My dad was hospitalized when Super Bowl X (10) was played on January 18, 1976. I took the very red portable color TV up to the hospital to watch the game with him because they didn’t have color TV’s yet. The Cowboys lost that game 21-17. Dad died in November of 1977. Two months after his death, the Cowboys played one of their best games ever in Super Bowl XII when they beat the Denver Broncos 27-10. Dad was smiling down from heaven. One of my “bucket list” items at the time was to see my Cowboys win a Super Bowl in person.
I eventually became a season ticket holder for the Houston Oilers (until they left the city)…and now the Houston Texans. As a season ticket holder for the Oilers, our names got put in a drawing to acquire Super Bowl tickets. Well, in January of 1993 I was fortunate to have my name drawn. I could only think of one person that would enjoy the game as much as I would. I called my buddy (and former brother-in-law) Virgil LaFerney and he was delighted to join me for the game. No, it wasn’t my Cowboys, but I was going to the Super Bowl in New Orleans to see the San Francisco 49ers demolish the Denver Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV (24). What a great memory to watch Joe Montana play the best game of his professional career.
Jerry Jones had bought my Cowboys, fired Tom Landry, and destroyed a franchise in the process. In January of 1993, I received a fax at work with an image of two Super Bowl tickets. One of them was marked with the words “This one is yours”! The fax came from none other than Virgil. I was beside myself. Even though it wasn’t Landry’s boys, I was once again presented with an opportunity to see a Super Bowl. The game? Super Bowl XXVII (27). The DALLAS COWBOYS vs. the Buffalo Bills (round 1). Yes, the Cowboys won 52-17 and I was a nervous wreck. The game was played in the Rose Bowl. I can’t tell you how much that event meant to me. Thanks again Virgil! What a treat it was.
I have fully converted and the Houston Texans are MY team. Perhaps this year will be our year. I certainly hope so. The city of Houston deserves it. When I watch a game, it is an incredibly spiritual and meaningful experience for me. There isn’t one single game that I watch, that my dad isn’t sitting right there with me in my heart; cheering and jeering along with me.
In 1994 and 1995, Nike began an NFL television and radio advertising campaign starring the actor Dennis Hopper. His most famous spot is the one about Bruce Smith..”Do you know what Bruce would do if he found me messing with his shoes? BAD things, man!” The one that always struck me was when he finished with the line “Is football the greatest game in the world? Yes it is!” And so it is, the title of my post today.