Thursday, December 24, 2009

How the NFL Pertains, Part I

It's strange how stories wind from the past, into the future. The future you don't know you'll come to one day, I mean.

My brother and I grew up in a wretched family. That we survived it all to be able to speak to each other was something neither of us expected, or even cared about, for that matter. Like anybody who comes out of a past of violence and destruction, we both have our fears. They're different between us, and they made it hard for us to communicate. For my brother, his path to himself came first through football, and then through the military. Football was a game I just could not understand; I couldn't grasp the rules. I tried for a little while, but the concept of a "down" was beyond me.

People speak through metaphor and analogy all the time. For years my brother was sending me signals while talking about football. "I know you don't care about football," he'd say. "But..." Before long, I'd tune out.

"Football is poetry in motion,"
my brother often said. I just laughed at that. Something like 15 years ago, I decided to try watching a game. With help from H.G., my partner -- (What a stupid word, "partner." He's the man I love, the man I live with, the man I've been with for nearly 20 years.) -- I slowly began to understand. Offense, defense, interceptions, kick-off returns, running backs, quarterbacks, I began to absorb it all. But I didn't care about it, not like my brother, so I stayed outside of the nuance of the game, its surprising subtleties. One Sunday I watched a Pittsburgh Steelers game. I don't even remember who they were playing. The Steelers had a young new quarterback named Kordell Stewart. I didn't know it then, but he held the key that would bring me all the way into the game of football. And I didn't know it then, but what happened to him is something I would remember the first time I realized that I was intimidated by my horse.

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