When it comes to football, I follow the trials and tribulations of two NFL (National Football League) teams. Those two teams are: the New England Patriots of the AFC (American Football Conference) East; and the San Francisco 49ers of the NFC (National Football Conference) West.
At this point in the season, these two teams could hardly be more different. The Patriots are the reigning Super Bowl Champions, and they are undefeated this year with a 10-0 record. The 49ers, on the other hand, are a weak sister by comparison. They are posting a dismal record of 3-7 with a weak team that is in desperate need of a few wins just to put a good face on the season.
There is a very good and logical reason why I am a fan for two teams. First, both teams play in different conferences. Second, I was born and raised in New England, yet I’ve been living in California since the beginning of my senior year in high school, 1965. Third, I was impressed by the loyalty to the 49ers by my brothers-in-law, Tony and Joe, have been die-hard 49er fans since the 1970s when the Niners were the 98 pound weakling in the NFL.
The last football game I can remember attending was in 1971. I was in the Marines and home on leave for Christmas. I stopped by the Oakland Marine Corps Recruiting Office to say hi to my recruiter. I do not remember his name, but he was a Gunnery Sergeant. We chatted for a while, at which point he asked me what I was doing the coming Sunday. I said I’d probably be hanging out at my parent’s home in Alameda enjoying home-cooking and watching a football game or two with my step father. He said he needed another Marine to fill out a four-man colors detail for an Oakland Raiders game. I jumped on the opportunity immediately! I looked forward to this because I would be wearing my Marine uniform at an NFL game marching with three other Marines while presenting the colors (American flag and California State flag). I was to be one of the rifle bearers. There are two who flanked the two flag bearers. In carrying the rifle you are to present the manual of arms which every Marine is drilled in during boot camp. It was great fun! I got to see the game for free standing on the sidelines, and to see players who are icons of the sport: Daryle Lamonica, George Blanda, Fred Biletnikoff, Willie Brown, Ben Davidson, Gus and Jim Otto (not related), Art Shell, Ken Stabler, Gene Upshaw, Phil Villapiano, and Carl Weathers. You may know Carl Weathers better as the actor who played Apollo Creed in the movie series, Rocky. A career-ending injury caused him to look elsewhere to make a living. Good choice going to Hollywood!
My brother-in-law, Tony, was here for Thanksgiving and asked me if I’d be interested in attending the 49ers-Cardinals game on Sunday. Would I? You bet! So it’s off to the new Levi Stadium in Santa Clara tomorrow morning. It’s only been 44 years since I attended my last NFL game! If I wait another 44 years before going again I’ll be 111. I’m thinking that’s not going to work!
The happy crew that is going to the game besides me are: brothers-in-law Tony and Joe Cabral, daughter and son-in-law Jenny & Josh Sousa, and nephews Cameron and Matthew Cabral.
As much as I’d like to be optimistic about the chances of the Niners pulling out a win tomorrow, that’s simply not going to happen. The Arizona Cardinals are 8-2, winning their last seven games. One TV sports commentator made this remark when asked if the 49ers could pull off the upset. He just laughed! Eventually he said, “I suppose they could have a chance. Instead of winning by six touchdowns, the Cardinals will only win by four touchdowns. Sigh! Yet hope springs eternal.
In accepting going to the game I realized I would most likely not see the New England Patriots play on Sunday Night Football against the Denver Broncos. Well, at least I can record it and watch it when I get home Sunday night. Sure am looking forward to the Patriots extending their undefeated streak.
Even though a win by the Niners tomorrow is remote at best, I have always enjoyed rooting for the underdog. So, GO NINERS!