My brother Mike was Tarkenton and I was Rashad. With a worn out orange Nerf football in my hands. All I could hear were the imaginary fans gasping as I pulled that ball out of the air.
We were two brothers taking on our neighborhood friends. Our stadium was the front yard. Our field? Maybe 20 yards, but surely not 100 yards.
We drew those ‘sandlot’ plays in the palm of our hands and executed them over and over again until the grass in our front yard had been transformed into dirt.
We drove the Vikings down the field on touchdown drives, until Mom said wash up boys, it’s supper time.
Where does time go?
What ever happened to our neighborhood friends who wore the jerseys of Sammy White and Alan Page. Thinking about old football memories sure makes me want to know things like what ever happened to my best friend across the road? Those are memories from so long ago.
I can thank Dad for fueling my passion for front yard football and wanting to be just like “Fran the Man,” Sammy White and Ahmad Rashad.
I still remember the days when he would pull those purple and gold tickets from his wallet and telling me we were going to a Vikings game at Metropolitan Stadium.
There was nothing I enjoyed better than going to the stadium, just me and my Dad.
I always thought he was watching out for me, ensuring that I would see a good game. I seemed like I always saw The Purple People Eaters beating up on the Bears and Bobby Douglass or the Eagles and Roman Gabriel.
We were eating hot dogs and drinking Coke while Tarkenton scrambled and scrambled while putting on a show.
I couldn’t wait to tell my friends all about it when I got home — and execute those touchdown plays over and over again with my brother in the front yard.
Where does time go?
Those football games at Met Stadium were some of the funnest times of my life. Tailgating in the parking lot. Bundled up in snowmobile suits. Watching the sunset blind you as it reflected off the mirrored Control Data building. Leaving the stadium with a victory in hand and exiting the levels and levels of stadium ramps so you could head back to the car.
At the time I thought those days would last forever. I didn’t think about things like Tarkenton retiring and being replaced by Tommy Kramer. I didn’t think about my football Mecca being retired and replaced by the Metrodome. I didn’t think that someday I’d be the Dad taking his boys to a Vikings game.
And I didn’t think about spending time watching my boys take each other on in football.
But they don’t head outside and tear up my yard. They tear up the living room with a Playstation, Xbox or Wii in front of them. Who ever thought that when the Oakland Raiders were beating the Vikings in the 1977 Super Bowl with a coach named John Madden behind the bench that the coach would still play a big role in football at a Hage household more than 30 years later!
Back in the 70s my brother was Tarkenton and I was Rashad. I had a worn out orange Nerf football in my hands.
Today Jason is Favre and Christopher is Peterson. They have warn out game controllers in their hands.
Time has passed by. Players have come and gone. Old memories have made room for new ones involving my own boys.
But you know what? One thing has remained the same. Football still is responsible for some of the best times in my life.
Jeff Hage is the managing editor of The Daily Journal. Reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.