He’s the first Eagles quarterback whose name I remember. I’m old enough to have known about Norm Snead or Pete Liske, but I didn’t have much interest in the game at that age. Besides, those names were boring. Roman Gabriel is a fantastic name, and I’m pretty sure I started sitting down with my dad and watching football with him (in part) because of that name.
Like a lot of dads in the seventies and eighties, he as a big football fan, although the Eegs (as everyone called them) were an endless source of disappointment. He wasn’t a man who cursed in front of his family, but he wasn’t above shouting “Gyot Damn Eggles!” forty or fifty times a game. And he never pronounced the name that way—Eggles—except out of frustration. Years of frustration.
Hanging out to watch the games was something we could do together, along with watching cheesy old monster movies. At least, we could until he passed, many years ago.
Me, I still like those monster movies but I have stopped watching football. Once it became clear how much damage the players were doing to their bodies by competing in this way, the fun went out of it. I don’t want to watch big hits–or even little–hits any more.
Five years ago, when the Eagles beat the Patriots for the championship, I decided to make an exception to my rule and watched the game. I didn’t know any of the players except the ones who were pop culture famous, which meant Tom Brady and Tom Brady alone. He’s a guy I root against under most circumstances.
And while I was glad the Eagles won, I wasn’t elated. It didn’t thrill me like it used to. Without my dad sitting on the couch, it didn’t seem to matter.
It’s been a long time since they died, but I’ve been thinking about my folks recently. My son turned 21 a few weeks back. He’s officially an adult now, but he never got to meet his paternal grandparents. They would have loved him, obviously, but I know they would have really really liked him, too.
(Don’t smoke, kids. And if you do smoke, keep trying to quit until it sticks.)
And now it’s Super Bowl Sunday again. The Eagles are playing, and I’ve been thinking about how much my father would have felt about this day, and how I would feel about it, too.
So I’ve decided I’m going to make a fancy onion dip, a big bowl of buffalo wings, some pizza, some beer, and I’m going to spend the day watching something else.
It turns out Gone with the Wind is about as long as a championship game. I’ve never seen it, so I’m finally going to cross that one off my list. And if the movie sucks, well, so do most Super Bowl games. It’s part of the tradition. During the pregame bullshit, I might cross a few other films off my list. HBOMax has a bunch of Kurosawa just sitting there, waiting for me to finally sit down with Rashomon and Ikiru. Maybe.
Anyway, I just discovered that we’re just about out of baking soda, so I’m going to run out and buy some for the wings. However you spend this Sunday, I hope you get to spend it with people you love, and that it’s a good day.