Friday, September 26, 2014

“When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.” — William Shakespeare


My father loved football (see picture at right) from as long as I can remember.  I’ve been thinking about him a lot since he would have been 100 years old yesterday.  When we lived in Midland, Dad knew a man named Eddie LeBaron who would go on to become the starting quarterback (with Don Meredith) for the Dallas Cowboys who were formed in 1960.  Mr. LeBaron came to our house for dinner and regaled us with football stories and charmed Dad no end.  Dad also loved Don Meredith and had been following his career at SMU.  When I was 15 years old in 1959, Dad took me to see Don Meredith’s last game at SMU versus their arch rivals TCU at Amon Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.  It was bitter cold, but we were dressed very warmly and had a big thermos of hot coffee.  While we were watching the game, Dad noticed a man sitting in the stands not far from us dressed only in light slacks, a sport shirt, and a thin sport coat.  He was shivering and rubbing his hands together.  Dad hollered at him to ask why he didn’t bring a warm coat.  The man replied, “I couldn’t.  My wife thinks I’ve gone out to get cigarettes.”  We shared a blanked and our coffee with him and watched Don Meredith play the worst game of his college career.  Still, when the Dallas Cowboys were formed, Dad became an avid fan and stayed one through thick and thin for the rest of his life.  He took me to several of their games played at the old Cotton Bowl in the Texas State Fairgrounds.  We watched pro football every Sunday afternoon for hours.  I probably spent more time watching football with him than anything else we did together.  I went out for football in high school just to please him, but I was playing for the brand new Midland Lee Rebels and we lost every game.  I only lasted three plays of one game against Odessa Permian—the team that the movie and TV series “Friday Night Lights” were about.  Big, mean, and tough, the guy across from me told me what he was going to do to me when the ball was snapped—and then he did it.  After three plays like that, I handed my helmet to the coach and went out for drama where they had love scenes and I didn’t get hurt.  I did win Actor of the Year my last year of high school and Dad was there to see me accept it.  That wasn’t bad considering a guy just a year back of me was Tommie Lee Jones. But I can’t help but think of Dad anytime I hear or see anything about the Dallas Cowboys.  As I near my 70th birthday, I play video football as the Dallas Cowboys, of course.  The thing is, I talk to Dad while I play even though he isn’t there any more.  Karen and John understand that it makes me feel better and have not called for the men in white coats to take me away just yet.  Besides, Dad would be proud that with me as their coach the Cowboys went undefeated and won the Super Bowl.  That one was for you, Dad.
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