The True Meaning of Football . . . or Should That Be The True Meanings of Footballs?

November 9, 2008


A young friend of our acquaintance demanded of his father, “What was I born to be?”


“President of the United States?” asked his father, feigning innocence.


“No!” the kid declared, puffing out his seven-year old chest with absolute confidence.  “I was born to play football!”


For this particular kid, football is a challenge and a delight.  Even at the age of seven, he appears to be a rather gifted athlete.  So who knows: perhaps his dream of being a wide receiver for the New England Patriots could become a reality.


For Kaye’s brother, who had severe asthma throughout his childhood, football was more nightmare than dream.  His limited athletic ability had to be confined to escaping from the bullies who, like the poor, we have always with us.


For Kaye, being the robust sibling, going with her Dad to football games (he had been a star center at Flushing High School, and was a player/coach in the local semi-pro league during Kaye’s childhood) was a way to be closer to the father she adored.


So learning about football, understanding it, being able to discuss it with her father had a great payoff.  For Kaye, football will always be bound up with mostly wonderful, yet slightly painful memories of her father, who died while she was in high school.


Clearly, football has an emotional meaning that varies with the connection one has had to the game.


Bob was a high school quarterback, so football has just been a natural part of his life, as it so often is for the male of our species.  But boxing was his preferred sport, and anyway, he knew from early on that he wanted to be a singer.  So football was briefly fun to play, and remains fun to watch without being a dominant force in his life.


That is, football touches different lives in different ways.  It takes on different memories and different meanings.


There’s the kid who ached to make the football team, but couldn’t.  And there’s the co-ed who dated the quarterback.  And the co-ed who yearned to date the quarterback, but couldn’t.


And the kid who was working to become a concert violinist or a nuclear physicist and didn’t give a rat’s ass about football.


And the kid who was working to become a concert violinist or a nuclear physicist and played first-string varsity.  Or maybe was a cheerleader.


Anyway, the part – or lack thereof – that football plays early in our lives will usually have an effect on our feelings toward the game later in life.


But that’s only the first layer of The Meaning of Football.

Football and Oatmeal: the Connection.

October 5, 2008

Most things in life – including football and oatmeal – work on at least two levels.  Usually a lot more. 


There is, of course, Football the Game.  It’s a specific sport played with it’s own set of rules and regulations.


To begin with, there is a difference between playing the game and watching it.  And what that means to the individual player and to the individual watcher.


Same with oatmeal.  It is, of course, a cereal.  It has rules of a sort: half a cup of dry cereal to one cup of water.  Or milk, if you prefer.  A dash of salt.  Unless you’re on a low sodium diet.


But oatmeal may also be considered from the differing viewpoints of what it means to the individual who cooks it and to the individual who eats it.


For the parent preparing oatmeal for the kids on a cold winter morning, it may be an act of love.


Ditto for the significant others who prepare oatmeal to help lower the cholesterol of their dearly beloveds.


The eater, then, may obtain from oatmeal more than insoluble fiber.  The memory of Mom or Dad making a raisin face for the morning oatmeal may provide solace on other cold winter mornings long after the kids are no longer kids.


That is, there is the thing itself – like oatmeal – and then there is the feeling attached to that thing.


For the kid whose parent burnt the oatmeal and screamed at the kid to shut up and eat it anyway, the memories may be a tad less heartwarming.


And that’s the way it is with football.  Granted, at bottom, it’s just a game.  But, like oatmeal, it can also be a good or a bad memory.  Or a power play.  Or even a weapon.


Next post, we’ll explore at least some of these possibilities.


Football . . . Relationships . . . World Change: Time to Connect the Dots

September 28, 2008

Okay.  We got a little sidetracked.  We love football.  And we could go on talking about football and talking about football and . . . well, need we go on? 


Actually, that’s the point: we have gone on.  And on.  That is, thus far, football is pretty much all we’ve talked about.


But we really did name this the Learn Football, Improve Your Relationship, Change the World Blog for good reason.  So we think it’s time we moved on and started connecting the dots.


For now anyway, we’ll leave the play-by-play to consummately capable pros like John Madden and his broadcasting brethren and . . . how would you say that?  Surely not sistern?


Anyway, that doesn’t mean we’re done with football quite yet. 


The thing is, football – like most everything else in life – has many faces.


What the heck do we mean by that?  Well, in our next post, we’ll begin by pointing out the connection between football and oatmeal.


Favre Fever: The NFL Opener (Later for World Change)

September 8, 2008

The 2008 NFL season is underway. You might not have noticed this by reading our blog.

Sorry. We got so caught up in telling you about the history of football, we sort of dropped the ball.

So, in case you didn’t know, today (Sunday, September 7, 2008) is the day that Brett Favre and the Jets faced off in their season opener against Chad Pennington and the Miami Dolphins.

Chad Pennington, you will recall, is the quarterback Brett Favre replaced.

Anyway, it was a good game, in doubt up until the last seconds. And both quarterbacks played well.

Okay. That’s what happened. But our tardiness in letting you know about this alerted us to the possibility that we may be losing our focus.

We told you this blog would be about football, relationships and changing the world. But if we try to tell you everything there is to know about football, we’ll never get to the rest of it.

So. We’ll leave it to Wikipedia to tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Super Bowl III.

And, of course, as promised, we’ll try to field any questions you may have about the game, or at least put them up on the blog for someone else to field. You know: if you’re watching Monday Night football, and the commentators start throwing around jargon you don’t understand, just ask. Okay?

Meanwhile, we’ll try to strike a better balance between football, relationships, and changing the world.

Oh, by the way: the Jets won 20-14.

Learning About Football: Why History Matters

September 1, 2008

 Learning about the legends, about the history of the game, is a big part of learning about football.  And it’s not just so you can talk the talk.  There’s nothing wrong with community theatre.  But to truly understand the craft of acting, it helps to have watched actors like Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart. 


Of course, you’re not likely to see Brett Favre on Turner Classic Movies.  But knowing something about history – be it of movies or nations or football – really is necessary to understanding . . . well, whatever it is you’re trying to understand.


For example, if you only understand the present . . . let’s go with nations here, since the example is a pretty clear one: to know that George Bush is what a president is is not to know what George Washington or Abraham Lincoln or John F. Kennedy or Richard Nixon were as presidents.


That is, to only know about Dubya is not really to know a whole lot about what it means to be President of the United States.


History provides perspective.


What does it mean to be good?  To be great?  To be mediocre?  To be awful?


You need a frame of reference.  Only an understanding of history can give you that.


The same holds true for quarterbacks.


Of course, Brett, to be fair to the old guy, is only recent history.  Still, he’s a legend in his own time.  So he’s made enough history already to be relevant to our discussion.


Okay then.  Getting back to movie icons, Brett Favre, who was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, and is of French and Choctaw Indian descent, has the square-jawed, aw shucks good looks of a Gary Cooper.


Which has nothing to do with his being an NFL legend.  Just thought it might give you a little incentive to pay attention to the game.


So what does make Brett Favre an NFL legend?  Well, now: where do we begin?


How about nine trips to the Pro Bowl?  That’s the football version of the All-Star Game.   Which is to say, Pro Bowlers are the best players in the National Football League.  And All-Pro is the best of the best.  Brett was selected for that seven times.  He was also the NFL’s Most Valuable Player three times, which is the most in NFL history.  And he led the Packers to the ultimate championship in the world of NFL football by winning Super Bowl XXXI.


He has so many ‘mosts’ in his career that you’ll think we made this up.  Most career NFL touchdown passes (442), most career NFL passing yards (61,655), most career pass completions (5,377), most career victories as a starting quarterback (160).  And the guy is still playing!!!


No wonder Jets fans are juiced!!!


By the way, since Brett Favre is almost synonymous with the Green Bay Packers, many people (perhaps even your resident expert) think he was a Packer from the start of his NFL career.  Not so.


Consider this a factoid that could put you one-up on the know-it-alls in your living room.  Favre actually began his NFL career in 1991 with the Atlanta Falcons.  It was not until the following year that he was traded to Green Bay, where he became the starting quarterback in the fourth game of the 1992 NFL season.  And he remained Green Bay’s starting quarterback for every game over the course of the next sixteen years.


But besides his status as legend, what makes his trade to the Jets so exciting is that the last (and only) time the Jets made it to the Super Bowl was back in 1969.  Now, that game is an all-time Super Bowl classic for a couple of reasons.  Reasons you really should know about if you’re gonna be able to talk the talk.  So in our next post, we’ll tell you all about it.



Can Brett Favre Improve Your Relationship?

August 24, 2008

The idea of football in general – and Brett Favre in particular – actually improving your relationship may sound . . . well, a bit silly.  At least at first glance.


But remember that old song: “How do you keep the music playing?  How do you think of new things to say?”


Well, now.  Can you see where we’re going with this?


Maybe learning a little more about football – and about Brett Favre – isn’t such a bad idea after all.


So here it is: all you ever wanted to know about Brett Favre.  Heck, we’ve even got Brett Favre authentic NFL jerseys for you to wear while you toss around your new-found brilliance.  Just make sure you save the talking for the commercials, okay?


Oh, and it’s pronounced Far-v, by the way.


So.  Brett Favre is one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time, a shoe-in for the Football Hall of Fame.


But perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves.  Since some of you are still new to the game (and/or haven’t read our book), we should explain first that the quarterback is the leader of his team.  He’s the guy who gets the ball at the start of each play, so the team’s fate is, to a very large extent, in the quarterback’s hands.  Which is why when a quarterback is as talented as Brett, he achieves the status of superstar.


Now.  What’s all the excitement about?  Well, as we said, after playing for the Green Bay Packers for the past sixteen years, and becoming an icon in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Brett has signed with the New York Jets.  And however Brett makes out in a Jet uniform, one thing’s for sure: he’ll fill the stadium seats wherever the Jets play.  The man really is a legend.


Which is part of the scenario here.  It takes time to become a legend, which means Brett Favre has been around for a while.  He’ll be thirty-nine on his next birthday, which falls on October 10.  Of course, that’s hardly considered old in the larger world, but in the sports community, especially in a role as demanding as NFL quarterback, it’s positively ancient.


Which is what led to the parting of the ways between Brett and the Packers.  He told them (and not for the first time) that, this year for sure, he was retiring.  But a few months into his retirement, Brett realized that he just couldn’t stay away.  Only by the time he got around to changing his mind, the Packers had already made up theirs: they were set to go with (gasp!) somebody else!


Frankly, in Green Bay, we think this may be a mortal sin, and heaven only knows what will become of the Packers without Brett at the helm.  That’s also a story we should be paying attention to, so look for a subsequent post on that subject.


For now, though, we’ll stick with Brett.  Which Green Bay may wish they had.   We shall see.


In our next post, we’ll tell you just how great the guy really is!!!



Football, Relationships . . . and Brett Favre?

August 22, 2008

We’ll begin our Learn About Football, Improve your Relationship Series with some facts about an NFL legend.  Brett Favre.  After playing for the Packers in Green Bay, Wisconsin, for sixteen years, Mr. Favre has just signed with the New York Jets.  We live in New Jersey, but we’re right on the banks of the Hudson River, so we can shake our fists at New York from our living room window. 


Now, we think it’s truly cool that Brett Favre is now quarterbacking the New York Jets.  Even so, our proximity to New York is not why we’re writing about Brett Favre and the NFL.


It’s because the first question we were asked after our book was published was not about how the game is played, or even how to look sexy while watching Sunday Night Football.  It was about Brett Favre.


So this is in answer to our ophthalmologist’s wife, who felt dumb because all her husband’s friends were talking about Brett Favre, and she didn’t even know what a Brett Favre was.


Which brings up an interesting point about relationships: why didn’t the good doctor just tell his wife a little bit about Brett Favre?  See, here’s the thing: many of you guys complain about being asked “stupid questions” by your beloved while you’re trying to watch the football game.  But how can you learn if you don’t ask?


So our question is: why not take a little time to explain the game a couple of mornings over breakfast or on a game-less Tuesday evening?  Then maybe you could just root together in peace on Sunday night, yes?


Meanwhile, if some of you football mavens would share your knowledge with us by posting on this blog, you might have a peaceful breakfast, too.  Sound like a plan?


Anyway, we’ve got Brett Favre covered.  We’ll tell you all about him in our next post.  But feel free to add anything we may miss.

A Co-Op to Learn About Football, Improve Your Relationship, and Change the World

August 19, 2008

Learn about football. Improve your relationship. Change the world. We wrote the book. We thought we were done here.

We were feeling pretty smug, if you want to know the truth. Hey, we thought, with Football is for Lovers, you guys could learn enough about football so that you could watch a game, know what was going on, and even enjoy it. Plus (we thought, blushing) we showed you how learning football could be sexy so that you could use it to spice up your relationship. Heck, we even provided the wardrobe for you: basic black logo T-shirt and an infinite supply of official NFL jerseys.

And then, we put plenty of football factoids in the book so you’d know some cool stuff your beloved probably didn’t, so you could maybe feel a little smug, too.

And as if the book weren’t enough, we began writing a bunch of articles about football and relationships and like that, and we posted them to our website.

We mean, geez, guys. We already gave you the blueprint for intimacy, romance, sex, M&M’s, and whole new way of looking at football. We even threw in a Burma Shave sign.

What more could you want?

Well, we got the answer to that question pretty darn quick.

Seems like we didn’t tell you Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Football and Relationships after all. Well, we did warn you in the book that nobody knows everything, and nobody is ever completely ready for anything. Even so, when you feel dumb, you don’t feel sexy. When you feel smart, you do. So obviously we don’t want to leave you stranded with unanswered questions.

Okay, then. Here’s the plan: we’ll get this blog rolling with more football facts and relationship tips, and try to tell you what you want to know. Still, we’re only Bob and Kaye. Can we get a little help here?

Which brings us to the Big Co-Op Idea. You guys can ask whatever you want, and maybe we can all give each other some answers. About relationships, NFL teams and players, when it’s time to call a quarterback sneak, the best way to accessorize a Raiders jersey. Whatever. Bob and Kaye may not know everything, but among us all, we’ll bet we know quite a lot. Maybe even enough to change the world.

Bob and Kaye’s Mission Statement

August 17, 2008

Learn about football, improve your relationship, change the world. We’re Bob and Kaye, and that, in a nutshell, is the mission of our blog. We already wrote a book, Football is for Lovers, to kick things off. And, yes: the book is about learning football and improving your relationship. Changing the world may take a few more books. Meanwhile, we’re aware that even when it comes to learning football and improving your relationship, our book may not be quite enough. Hence the blog. Which we hope will become sort of a learn football/improve your relationship co-op, with you guys posting relationship tips as well as information about the NFL team of your choice. And maybe all that sharing will move us a little further toward changing the world.