There’s no way my mom wanted to eat alone right? I felt sorry for her, no kids around, all by herself every day on her lunch break. Poor mom.
So one Summer I kept her company. Together we ate and watched Days of Our Lives — quite possibly the worst thing that’s ever entered my brain through my eyeballs.
Roman Brady, the best of the good guys, fell off a cliff, the sort of thing certain to kill a man. But no. Roman later returned with amnesia, a different face and about six inches more height, and muscles too. Turned out Stefano Domero, the worst of the bad guys, had found an injured Roman, gave him a new face and new life.
Was Roman Stefano’s son? Was the new Roman a fake up to no good? Was Stefano keeping Roman alive so he could have the thrill of killing him again later?
Never again would I waste time on a soap opera. Until…
I found something my nine year-old loved to read: stories about football games. So every day I went to NFL.com looking for kid friendly articles about his favorite team the Steelers – which meant I did a lot of reading about football myself.
For the first time I started to understand the game – not just the rules, terminology and the names of players but also why some people love watching pro football: It’s a soap opera that keeps score.
I was hooked.
The NFL has villains. James Harrison of the Steelers was suspended this year for tackling quarterback Colt McCoy helmet-to-helmet. Harrison breaks the rules a lot. Then there’s the loose cannon Ndamukong Suh of the Lions, who stepped on a player after the play was over. There’s no shortage of villains – often self-proclaimed – in the NFL.
The NFL has good guys too. Drew Brees is as well known for his charity efforts to rebuild and inspire New Orleans since 2006 as he’s known for breaking passing records this year. Troy Polamalu of the Steelers and Brian Dawkins of the Broncos are both feared defenders on the field but regarded as gentle, quiet, humble Christian men in the league.
The media develops every star into a character – good guy or villain – and every game into a story.
Tim Tebow is a good guy, for example. He’s a missionary kid who grew up in the Philippines before moving to Florida. Though home schooled, Florida law allowed him to play sports for the public high school where he lead his team to a championship. Then he won two national championships in college and the Heisman trophy. He’s known for praising his teammates more than himself, never missing an opportunity to thank God publicly for his talent and the chance to play professional football, leading with optimism and encouragement rather than shouted threats, for being the first one at practice and the last one to go home.
That’s Tim Tebow the character.
His story? Tim Tebow is too big, too good at running, too inaccurate as a passer to play quarterback. He’s been told that since he was a kid. But somehow, at every level, he’s won games. It’s not pretty – the ball wobbles in the air, he doesn’t complete many of his passes – but he wins more often than not.
Every game is preceded by experts explaining why the Denver Broncos will lose. On paper? They should. But then they go and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers? The best defense in the NFL?
David slaying Goliath. Rocky toe-to-toe with Ivan Drago. Daniel Larusso craning Cobra Kai. Ronald Miller getting a date with Cindy Mancini. The little engine that could…
That’s a story I’ll tune in to watch. A melodrama with one-dimensional characters.
Who are you pulling for in the soap…I mean playoffs?