Nothing beats the start of another NFL season
Have you got the fever yet? No, not the kind you measure with a thermometer, but with a blood pressure cuff. It always shows its symptoms at the time of the year that's bittersweet with the end of the summer and the beginning of fall. That's right, we're talking Football Fever, and more specifically NFL Fever. Are you ready for some football?
I got my first case back as a kid when our whole Sunday revolved around watching the Eagles game on our black & white TV with "rabbit ears" for an antenna. Spaghetti dinner and football in the middle of the afternoon on a fall Sunday ... what was better than that? Only one thing … and that was being at the game in person and that's when the fever rose to terminal status.
My father took his son, Vincie, to one game at Franklin Field and I was hooked. So much so that when I was a junior at St. Joe's, a few of my high school buddies and I scrounged up 60 bucks each and got our first set of season tickets.
When we got them in the mail it was like a scene out of that 2005 flick "Fever Pitch," starring Drew Barrymore & Jimmy Fallon. The four of us - yeah the guys in "Invincible" - looking at that strip of tickets like they were gold bullion. Sitting in the 44th row, bleachers, in the horseshoe of fabled Franklin Field - man, we were in heaven.
We would grab the train out of Secane, Pa., to 30th Street Station and hustle over to the stadium, always making a detour through the lot where the players parked their cars. And there would sit the ride of them all, Ben Hawkins' Aston Martin. Never saw that in Glenolden where we all lived and certainly never imagined that The Hawk and I would someday be teammates!
For half of the games I would still be in my rough touch uniform coming directly to the game after playing for Max's, Deacon's Ale House, or Cannon's Café. And that's where the dream began, sitting in those splintered seats wondering what it would be like to be out on the field in Eagles green looking up at the fans. We all made the move to The Vet and sat in the nosebleeds, and yes there were more than few a tears in my eyes when The Vet was imploded.
Would you believe that 37 years later I would be sitting in those Franklin Field same seats, with the same awe I had back in '68, watching Mark Wahlberg and the filming of "Invincible." On the same campus where the "Giants Fan," my wife of 20 years, Janet, was really head gymnastics coach at Penn and a USA gymnast. And that on the same weekend seven years ago the movie was ranked No. 1 in the box office. Pinch me because I must still be dreaming.
The fever still rages with the same intensity I had back then, and it has has gone up a few degrees this season with the anticipation of the promise the Chip Kelly infusion will bring. Whether it's the helmets, the uniforms, the passion, the fans, the tailgates ... whatever, it's NFL Fever and no matter what you say it rules.