One big happy family

"Football is like life; it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority." – Vince Lombardi

These days, more women are watching NFL football and anecdotally, it's not because we like watching a bunch of grown men in tight pants. After all, the first female officiated an NFL game this season.

Even though I'm not quite there yet, I think I'm starting to get it. I still can't see myself spending three hours planted on the couch on a perfectly good Sunday afternoon.

Humor columnist Erma Bombeck once said, "If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead." Until now, I would have totally agreed.

To provide some perspective, I have viewed pro-football as nothing but a racket, big business gone wild.

While I still believe that the movers and shakers of the sport, AKA owners and their underlings, possess little care, if any, for faithful fans who devotedly fork out lots of hard-earned dough to purchase stadium seats, watch games live on Direct TV, gamble and purchase team-branded apparel and paraphernalia, I'm starting to see the light at the end of the huddle.

Otherwise, how else would you explain my sudden poetic visualizations of football as allegory for life in general?

For instance, the other night when my husband was flipping through the channels, he landed on the premiere game of the brand new season between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants.

When seven offensive players assembled on the line of scrimmage with four more lined up behind them, all I could see was a devoted family. I don't know, maybe from Vermillion, Minn., preparing to defend, protect and advance their kindred spirits to their destination, Vermillion, S.D. Or in football terms, by running or passing the ball over the goal line.

I can't be that far off considering George Will once said, "Football combines two of the worst things in American life: violence punctuated by committee meetings."

Take your average offensive team. The center compares to the quintessential dad. He thoughtfully puts the ball in play by snapping it to the quarterback, who could be considered like the mom, just don't tell Tim Tebow. Like most moms everywhere, quarterbacks encourage, mentor and nurture their offense.

Let's break it down further. Offensive guards and tackles are similar to big brothers and big sisters. Irritating at time, but they always have your back. Dan Birdwell put it this way: "[They] play this game like somebody just hit your mother with a two-by-four."

Tight ends catch passes or block. Like dear aunts and uncles who open doors of opportunities for us, often splurging over their little darlings, they enhance the offense.

Wide receivers are the family mascots, catching passes and spending the entire game trying to get free from defensive backs, thieves by any other name. They're cute, fast and lovable.

Running backs resemble little brothers and sisters with attitude. Rug rats, every last one, making faces, running away and talking back. I'd say spoiled rotten.

Now the defensive team resembles my Italian family. They're so hyperactive; they make attention deficit disorder look normal. Emotional! Oh, don't get me started.

Linebackers are my kind of people. They do more than anybody else, multitasking just like my grandmother, who raised 10 children, baked her bread, hand scrubbed clothes and floors, harvested her own food. The list is long.

Not quite family, Cornerbacks are hovering neighbors, keeping watch, knocking down passes and taking on wide receivers.

Both free and strong safeties, like distant neighbors at the far end of the block, are the final line of defense, stopping long passes and runs. Nothing gets by them.

Special teams, called in for special plays, are more like third or fourth cousins, seldom seen and you may or may not know their names.

When I consider football these days, I don't shake my head like I used to. Now, I cast empathetic glances toward all the energy in the stands and on couches, on the fields and at the sidelines.

Vince Lombardi summarized, "Individual commitment to a group effort is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work," and might I add a family work.

I excitedly shared my new found awareness and appreciation with my husband, an avid and lifelong football fan, who looked like a deer caught in headlights and mumbled something about "What are you trying to say? And, who's the sister?"

I think he gets it!

2012 © Copyright Paula Damon. A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contests, her columns have earned eight first-place awards. To contact Paula, email  boscodamon.paula@gmail, follow her blog at and find her on FaceBook.

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