Oct 19, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams running back Tre Mason (27) falls into the end zone for a six yard touchdown run during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
A few months ago, I wrote a piece for Ramblin’ Fan about how my son had been in hospital. I wrote about how, during those tense few days, football very much took a back-seat and the goings-on of the occasionally dysfunctional St Louis Rams were very much an irrelevance. When he luckily recovered, however, football taking a center stage once more was seen as a sign of life returning to normal after a turbulent period. Football represented normality and the fact that I once again had time for the blue-and-gold was a good thing.
For football – and any other passion, for that matter – gives us these precious moments, and, when we have such experiences, we will never be able to disassociate football’s role in them – not that we would want to. And another experience over the weekend – specifically during the Rams’ victory over the Seahawks – led to one of those moments where being a Rams fan was inextricably linked to one of the highlights of fatherhood.
So there I was, iPad in hand, watching the Rams on Game Pass take on the defending Super Bowl champions and searching for their second win of the season (bear in mind that, with the time difference, it was early evening). Excitement had been building up. Benny Cunningham had just returned the ball for 75 yards, the Rams had moved the ball well and were at the six-yard line. This was accompanied by loud cheers and fist pumps from me and, ever the curious child, my son, who would normally be in bed at this point, came over to look over my shoulder and see what was going on. Now, he knows a few terms – saying “Incomplete pass!” with the relevant gesture seems to be his favorite – and he recognises the Rams logo as it always seems to feature somewhere on Dad’s clothing, but he does not really understand much of what is going on in an American football game. To be fair, there are many adults in Europe who do not either. Then Austin Davis handed the ball to Tre Mason, who ran the ball up the middle and…TOUCHDOWN!!!
Cue intense excitement! I yelled and waved my hands in the air. My son broke into a big smile, shouted “Touchdown!” with me, gave me a high-five, hugged me and cheered enthusiastically. Naturally, he did not really understand the importance of what Mason had achieved. He knows nothing about the frustration of being a Rams fan: of the heartbreaking losses, the seasons of futility, the draft busts, the underachieving free agents, the injuries. He has never heard of Scott Linehan, or Steve Spagnuolo, or Tye Hill, or Jason Smith, or Robert Quinn’s sack drought, or Sam Bradford’s ACL, or potential moves to L.A. His four-and-a-half years represent less than half of a decade of losing. But he saw his Dad get excited, he saw his Dad happy and, for some reason, a dreadlocked man in a blue-and-gold helmet wearing a matching jersey with a ‘27’ emblazoned on it, caused this reaction. And, for him, it was a big moment. For us, it was a big moment. Our first shared Rams touchdown. And while he might not remember this in the future, I know I will.
This next weekend is another opportunity for football to give way to a special moment. My wife and I are travelling to Wembley for the Lions – Falcons game. We are leaving the kids behind – I also have a two-year old daughter – and it will be our first time alone in over five years. We might see the legendary Steven Jackson break the 11,000-yard mark. We might see the best wide receiver in football catch a few touchdown passes. Maybe Devin Hester will break one of his trademark returns for us. Whatever happens, however, it will be another one of those moments when football and real-life mix together to create something special and truly unforgettable.
I will tell you all about it next week.