My life changed, my priorities changed, and I made a shocking decision that I have never regretted.
I have a public confession. It’s possible the confession may make me sound like less of a man because after all, all men love football right? How is that for a classic stereotype of men? Why would a man like me stop watching the NFL? It’s not because The NFL blithely looked the other way and allowed Michael Vick back in the NFL after he killed animals in the cruelest way imaginable. It would have been a great reason to give up on the NFL, but I didn’t. It’s not because they overlooked players who beat their wives. That would have been more than enough of a reason, but I didn’t quit in protest. No, I loved watching NFL football, and I still watched “America’s game.” I even had my own fantasy football team. The reason I stopped watching is a reason that you would never guess in a million years.
I stopped watching the NFL because my wife died. My beloved wife of thirty two years died suddenly one night and I was left a widower at the age of 54. What the heck does that have to do with any of this? When my wife died it obviously changed my life in every way.
My eyes were opened and I suddenly saw life in a very different way. I started looking at and examining everything I was doing. I realized how precious life was and how every minute really mattered.
I was watching the first Sunday game, the second Sunday game, the Sunday night game. I also watched Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football. When I thought about this, I realized I was watching nine hours on Sunday, three hours on Monday, and three on Thursday. So about fifteen hours of football a week, or sixty hours a month. That did not include pre-game shows or the time I spent on my fantasy football team. I came to realize some truths about my life.
I realized I was spending time not living life, but watching other people live theirs (as in the coaches and the players.) I wasn’t playing football, I was watching football, and watching other people watch football.
I realized that at the end of my life that I wasn’t going to be on my deathbed regretting that I didn’t watch that one Steeler’s football game. Hell, one year later I couldn’t even remember the details of that game or this game. It was like cotton candy; it dissolved in my head after a while and faded. No at the end of my life, I would be filled with regret for not spending more time with my family or for not writing “that book” I had inside of me. My legacy was not going to be “boy he was a huge football fan.” It was going to be that I was a good father, husband, brother and friend and that I was a good man.
I am now married to a truly amazing woman and she is a gift to me and my life. She is beautiful inside and out. We met and got married when I was fifty-five. She is fifty- two. She has always said that she was OK with me watching football, encouraged me, and was very supportive. She offered to sit beside me on the couch while I watched my team, the long suffering Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But I have had a change of heart, and I just don’t want to do that, the passion is not there.
I want to live life to the fullest. I want to take my wife to the park and go on a hike. I want to watch the sun go down with her on the beach. I want to take her to Rome. Here is what I know — I know that I don’t know how long we will have together, but I will make every minute and every breath count. I will enjoy every minute of her, every minute of us, every minute I can of my life.
Why did I write this? All I ask you is to think about it. You don’t have to give up watching the NFL if you don’t want to, but maybe only watch one game on Sunday and then surprise your family and take them to pick apples. You and your kids will always remember that sweet crisp sunlit fall day, long after the memory of the Bengals game has faded.
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