My wife and I were on our way home from New England a few years ago, and stopped in Hartford, Conn. for the night. It was nearly bedtime when I discovered there was something in the car I could not do without, so I went out after it.
On the way back to the room, two young couples carrying pizzas boarded the elevator I was riding. One of the guys noted my Miami Dolphins football jersey – the one with 34 on front, and R. Williams across the shoulders.
That was the year the Dolphins learned the folly of pinning a whole team’s fortunes on one man. Ricky Williams was a heck of a runner. The guy could squirrel through some seemingly impossible holes in piles of very large opposing players. When the Fins were within touchdown range, all they had to do was get Ricky the ball and the points went on the board.
Unfortunately, Ricky had an affinity for marijuana, and that’s illegal, and he’d been suspended.
All of which was well known to one of the young fellows on the elevator. The Dolphins were due to play the New England Patriots the next day in Boxborough, Mass. The fellow was eager to point out the futility of even thinking the men from South Florida might stand a chance without Ricky.
I had to admit, he had me at a disadvantage. We were a state line away from what was clearly his home team, and I was defending myself about as well as he figured my team would in tomorrow’s game.
“Well, I don’t really know much about football,” I admitted.
“Thing is,” I said, “My wife is from Miami, loves the Dolphins since some guy named Shula coached the team.
“And winter’s coming on and she lets me sleep indoors when it snows.”
The guy got that totally baffled look in his eyes, like some folks get when they look under the hood at an engine that’s quit running. All they see is a bunch of wires and hoses and none of it makes any sense at all.
The elevator door opened on my floor and just as I was about to leave I looked at his girlfriend. She was grinning. She knew what to do with the wires and hoses.
“Explain it to him, would ya,” I asked her.
She laughed, and I headed to my room.
A few years have passed. Last year, we switched from Comcast to DirecTV; the satellite provider has NFL Sunday Ticket, and the other guys don’t. We no longer miss Dolphins games.
I still don’t know a lot about football, except that if Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady throws the ball, someone on his team will catch it. I think his twin brother is Spiderman; every time he throws, he attaches an invisible piece of silk thread to guide the pigskin to its target.
And I know if you can’t say something good about your own quarterback …
I also know that in spite of the score Monday night – the Pats took it, 38-24 – it was a good night. Our son came over to watch the game and share some spaghetti and Mom-made sausage balls, and his son wore a Dolphins jersey. Good training.
The tyke will be a year old next month. He’s at the stage where there are two kinds of people in the world: The Daddy, and Not-The-Daddy. Give him a few years.
Oh, I know something else: as long as I cheer for Miami, I can sleep with the dog on cold snowy winter nights.
And Grady the Golden always sleeps indoors.
Photo by Christmas w/a K
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