Of Faith and Football

Football season is over.  Tom Brady is already recovering from post-season foot surgery and tonight I’ll have to put my faith in the Steelers–rather than my beloved Patriots–to beat the Jets.  No, it has not been a good week for New England fans.

It’s not just disappointing to lose a shot at the Super Bowl–although the Pats really did look like a team of champions until last week–but to cut short the show of brilliance we got to witness this season.  To me, the thrill of this sport is to see peak athleticism in action and, when it works, the orchestration of men, mind, and muscle that wins games.

In my next life I want to be strong and brown, with long legs, muscled shoulders, and maybe even a few tattoos that claim, without apology, “this body is mine.”  I want to come back, just once, as an athlete, a football player, a wide receiver.  I want to be a Larry Fitzgerald, to have faith in God, in these legs, this heart.  I want to leap two body lengths through space and catch sailing leather bullets of hope.  I want to run, to fly, to be caught in slow-motion:  a dancer or gazelle against a green ground, against a crush of human voices raised in surprise and triumph and joy over the simple act of a ball hitting my glove and sticking.  I want to do this for them.

And for me.

Maybe then I can have a bigger part to play in the ups and downs of the season.  But for now, I will put my blue jersey away until a crisp day in September when I’ll put a beef stew on the stove, the first game of the season on the big-screen, and my hopes on the team that I know can win a Super Bowl.

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