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Football fever


October 12, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT , Sports Editor

Fall has always been one of my favorite times of year. The change of color, the leaves on the ground and the crisp weather have always been a welcome respite after usually hot summers.

Of course, there has always been another reason that I have loved fall and that reason has always been football. It seems that with the onset of each and every fall I develop a case of football fever that just cannot be cured.

I can still remember when I was a small boy, running around in the front yard of our home in Garland, Texas, playing football by myself. How exactly does one go about playing football by himself, you may be asking. Well, I'll tell you. You kind of throw the ball up in the air, run under it and catch it.

Some of my fondest moments as a child occurred in that front yard. I would pretend to be all of the Texas A&M greats of the day as I marched my team down field, out of my parent's yard and in to the yard of our neighbor, eventually scoring a touchdown against the hated Texas Longhorns in their driveway. (I must confess that the only Aggie greats I knew of were Curtis Dickey and Mike Mosley, so I had to content myself with pretending to be those two.)


If you want to know the truth about my one-on-none football games, I will confess it now. You see, I was supposed to be outside helping my dad rake the leaves from the yard, but it always seemed the big piles of leaves I made were much better for diving into than putting in a trash bag. Thus, I used these dives as part of my front-yard games, much to my father's dismay.

Football fever followed me as our family began its gypsy wanderings around Texas and finally to Oregon. We moved from Dallas to Bryan and it was there that I began my training to be the next Roger Staubach/Dan Fouts. The golden gun was in full effect in those days, throwing all over my fifth-grade classmates for touchdown after touchdown.

From Bryan the fever followed me to another small Texas outpost where my actual playing career began in earnest and then finally to Oregon where the fever spiked and eventually passed.

Yes, there was a time, when my hair was orange and my clothes were meant to be offensive, that the fever was broken. During that time anything that had to do with any sort of sporting event (except, of course, the Boston Red Sox) was something that I didn't want to have anything to do with.

Sometime after my teenage rebellion (which in some ways I'm still going through) the fever returned to me. Well, it shouldn't have been a surprise as the fever returned just about the same time I returned to Texas to attend school at the same fine university whose players I had emulated once upon a time in a front yard in the Dallas area.

You have to be a hard person to escape the fever when you're living in Texas. The state lives and breathes the sport and unless you're my mother or sister you're going to be hard-pressed to at least not catch a mild case of football fever.

From my time at Texas A&M things have only gotten worse. I often find myself watching games on Saturday afternoons played between teams I couldn't care less about. I spend most Sundays watching whatever games might happen to be on, rooting on the players on my fantasy football team, not really caring who wins or loses, just enjoying the sport of it.

The fever has also driven me back on to the playing field from time to time. Our I.V. Press league kicked off Saturday and although we only had six players (three per side) it was good to be back on the gridiron once again, no matter how modified it was. And after an hour and a half of battle, my side again found itself on the short end of the stick, falling to the Lil' Raiders, as our opponents are affectionately called. And while I cannot speak for my teammates, I can tell you that the loss stung. But it also made me long for next week, when the fever can rage once again.

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