I knew I was going to write about this, I just didn’t know when or how the words would come out.
Last night though, the burden inside of me shaped into words and just like that, my article was complete.
I’ll admit, this is going to be a bit different than any of my other articles; it will be more personal and perhaps it will allow you to see the more vulnerable side of me.
I am going to write about a person that has changed my life, a person who I watched play the game, and in my eyes played it better than anyone else I have ever known.
I was first introduced to this man at the tender age of four. I didn’t know too much about him, but from what I had heard, he was a great guy and I would forever be a changed person having him in my life.
To say they were right would be quite the understatement.
Imagine right now the bravest person you have ever met, and times that by ten. Are you seeing that person?
During the next 25 years, I saw a fair share of the ups and downs that life’s journey brings. It seemed I would always turn towards this man when I needed advice; it first was advice about sports but turned out I was asking advice about everything in my life.
As time went by, I began to let my guard down more and more. And as I became older, I began to understand him and what he was all about.
He wasn’t about failure. He wasn’t about dishonesty. He was comfortable in his own skin, which I think is the hardest thing to be.
When a challenge came his way, he didn’t cower over and let his teammates take the task. He would be the first one to stand up for what he believed in, even if it meant putting himself in harm’s way.
He would do anything for his team.
In his heart, he always did the right thing. In his head, he always did the smart thing.
I came to him one day with a sobbing face and told him I was thinking about giving up my dream to be the next Erin Andrews, if you will. I had let my super thin skin get ruptured by the nasty remarks coming from men I had never even met.
Football, I was told, is a man’s sport; I would be crazy to think I could go into their territory and gasp, get a job. They would always know more than me and I could never really understand the game, as I never had played it.
I can’t possibly begin to understand what goes through a players mind when they are about to win one of the most prestigious awards out there.
I can’t begin to imagine the workload my body would take on to make it to the NFL.
I can’t do any of those things.
I can do more.
While I will concede that I will never understand all the formulas that go into football, as the players know, I don’t think that it is completely necessary when it comes to working on the sidelines. Sure I don’t understand the pain one feels to have a torn ACL while still trying to play the last quarter of a game, but I sure can interview them in a more unique way than you are accustomed to seeing.
I can add a little sensitivity to the sport while interviewing these guys, instead of the common “Hey, great game. Tell me about the drug addiction a year ago”.
I can prove that women do know what they’re doing on the sidelines, instead of asking a coach “Wow, so how ya feeling Coach” after they just lost the game 45-3.
I can be completely unbiased, because I haven’t played the game. Every interview would be a learning experience. A chance to see and hear what I am missing by not playing in the NFL. I can make it a real conversation.
I can give passion so great you would think I did play.
I know I can do it, because I’ve done it before.
This is such a different attitude from the battered ego I had a year ago. It seems that some of the best advice you receive in life, is from someone whom you would least expect it.
Hence the reason for this article.
I am dedicating this article to the man that I have the utmost respect for. A man that was my inspiration for chasing my dreams and not letting anyone tell me “You’re a woman, you can’t do this.”
As a side note, the men that were telling me this were also the men that have so little confidence they are still calling their mom’s to make sure their outfit looks okay.
You know who you are.
My Dad came into my life when my biological father ran out. He adopted me 2 years later and from that moment on, he would get to see the perks and the headaches that having a 4 year old daughter would provide.
We were my Dad’s teammates, and His team came before anything else.
He made me promise him last year that I would follow my dreams. When I left his side this past New Year’s Day, I looked him in the eyes and whispered to him that I was going to be okay. I knew my future had amazing things in store, and I owed a lot of that to him.
He smiled a rare smile. I saw in his eyes how proud he was, and I only hope he saw the same look in return.
He died two days later.
I think he held on long enough for me to say those words to him. It was just like him to make sure I would be okay before he left.
So thank you, Dad, for your encouragement through the years. I will never experience envy the way I do now, when I see daughters with their Dad’s laughing and talking. Walking down the aisle will be a great thing for me in the future, but there will always be the white elephant in the room, unless I do something about it.
As Randy Pausch has once said, "It's time I introduce the elephant"
My Dad, Richard C. Hamlin was a man you would want to know. He would be the first to help someone with a flat tire on the side of the road and be the last person to judge someone. He was absolutely hilarious and had the most contagious laugh that you couldn't help but laugh with him.
Dad, you have played this game better than anyone else I know.
The game of life.
In loving memory of Richard C. Hamlin.
August 18th 1948 - January 3rd 2009.
You are missed more than you will ever know.