Super Bowl XXV Draws in a Fan for Life
I will always remember Super Bowl XXV.
It was that evening and those final ticking seconds that sucked me into the NFL and I have never looked back since.
I was only nine when I saw it, so I can't tell you about all of the hype leading up to the game. I can't recall every stat or record during the season.
Actually, since I grew up in South Florida, I was pretty much a Dolphins fan. I did have a No. 13 jersey, after all. But that colder-than-normal night in Ft. Myers, FL was different.
We had a packed house that night; the Italian side of the family was down from Jersey. They were loud, covered head to toe in Giants gear, and trying to explain to me what I was seeing.
So, for that night, I, too, was a Giants fan. My uncle told me I had to be and there was no argument.
The game was a close one. My house rocked louder and louder as the night went on and I was loving it.
I mean, I was up way past my bedtime and my family was drunk and dancing. What a sight!
Then, near the end of the game, we took the lead. I was glued to the television the same way every family member at least 20 years older than me was.
The bad guys (the Bills) took over and started to make the overweight members of my family sweat. The mood began turning foul.
Curse words (many of which I didn't even know existed) rang through the air, replacing the cheering, laughing, and music hear just seconds earlier.
With just eight seconds left, the Buffalos' kicker had a chance to give the bad guys a win and make every member of my household cry, scream, and curse that damned television and the game ruining a great night.
The sight that will never leave me sits in the back of my brain still today. It was of my family looking distraught like I had never seen: aunts and uncles covering their faces with pillows, or hiding them in beers, my father in the kitchen with my mom, hugging and whispering to each other.
I hadn't been to a funeral at that point in my life, but I imagined it was the same exact thing. Every person in my house was still, quiet.
I took in this image and, at nine years old, couldn't make sense of it, so I walked out onto the back porch. I looked up and prayed like I had learned in Sunday School to please let the Bills miss.
I hated seeing my family this way and I just wanted everyone to be happy again, singing and letting me stay up way past my bedtime.
I, too, hid my face when the kick sailed through the air. The announcers were silent for a second, as was my family.
Then it started like a jet engine preparing for take-off—the eruption of noise as Norwood's kick began sailing wide.
Farther and farther left and, finally, it missed. The good guys won. My house could have exploded with the noise that came out of it.
That was the moment I knew I loved football, not because my team won but the raw emotion that it brought to everyone around me.
When I go to games today, I always look around for the next me: the younger of that father and son duo going to their first game. I know that, down the road, he'll be hooked, too.
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