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OF FAMILY AND FOOTBALL

With the Super Bowl now in the rear view mirror, it's time for a last football story, at least until next year. Though at its heart, this is as much about family as football.

After college as a journalism major, my brother headed to Longview,Texas near the Louisiana border, where he found a job as a sportswriter, eventually working his way up to having his own column. One New Year's, Grace and I decided we'd call to wish him a "Happy", he being half a continent away from home and hearth. Despite repeated tries, no answer, which seemed strange for what most people is a sleepy (if not hungover) day.

Finally, at about 11 at night, Brian returned the call (this is before cell phone and texting technology allowed for instantaneous, and somewhat impersonal, interaction). He explained he'd just gotten home, being at work the entire day. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: "You had to work on New Year's! Brian, you're a sportswriter, not a first responder."

Brian: "Ken, this is one of our busiest days. You know, all the bowl games."

Me: (Light bulb turning on) "So how was it? What did you do?"

Brian: "I covered the Cotton Bowl." (Alabama played Texas that year in Dallas).

Me: "Did you get to eat any New Year's dinner?"

Brian: "Yeah, they had a carving station in the press box, roast beef with sides and an open bar."

Me: "So why're you home this late?"

Brian: "I took Bear Bryant out for drinks after. I needed material for my column and he agreed to spend some time with me. It was a long day! I had a deadline to meet!"

Me: (Laughing) "Long day! You just lived what every red-blooded American boy dreams of, primo seats for one of the top games of the year, being well fed, and having a coupla' beers with Bear Bryant. Don't tell me you were working!"

Our good natured chat was typical of a deep affection we shared, and despite my snarkiness I was so proud that he'd had a chance to follow his dream. Sadly, it was a dream way too short, as cancer took Brian while still in his thirties.

I wrote before about thinking about my Dad before one of the NY Ranger hockey games. Loved ones return to us in the warmest of memories, in the most ordinary of times. Even in front of the TV as another Super Bowl kicks off.

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