Today is Super Bowl 50, and I am feeling low.
As a lifelong and exuberant fan of the NFL, I have always thought it appropriate that the Super Bowl marked the age I turn each year. In 1995, for example, when the ‘49ers trounced my beloved Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX, I turned 29 that fall. I have enjoyed sharing this weird little bond with this great American holiday…until this year. And to make it worse, the NFL decided that we are too stupid to know what an “L” means in Roman numerals, so those boisterous Arabic numerals “50” have been staring me down for weeks. Turning “L” sounds so much better, right?
But, alas, Super Bowl 50 marks the countdown to my fiftieth birthday in October, and there is no way around this truth. And despite my low mood and the fact that I am ten kinds of mad at the league I have followed like a boss since 1980, I tuned in to the pre-game festivities a full four-hours before the kickoff. I will watch the game with much enthusiasm, eat way too much chili and chip dip, and enjoy the evening as best I know how in a world without Mack, my favorite quarterback.
As I settle in to watch Peyton Manning and Cam Newton, Mack will be the quarterback on my mind. Mack was the tiny, loud-signal calling quarterback of her peewee team, she was the artful and cerebral quarterback of her flag football team, she was the bossy and serious quarterback of her two Powder Puff high school teams, and, in so many ways, she was the quarterback of her family and friends, as well. She was my favorite quarterback ever in the whole wide world. So from the first snap of Super Bowl 50, for me, it will be my Mack under center. I will see Mack’s brightly colored fingernails on every handoff to running backs. Each touchdown pass will remind me the beautiful, tight spirals that Mack could throw since the age of six. And on every touchdown celebration in the end zone, I will see a ten-year-old Mack dancing like a fool because she just scored a TD against four boys on the playground at Dubois Elementary School.