Once upon a time, I considered myself a pretty avid sports
enthusiast. I went to the games. I knew the stats. I watched my
Chicago sports heroes with fervor and devotion. Yet over the course
of having kids, I somehow lost interest. At first, I believed it
was due to a busy life with three young sons and a schedule that
kept me dashing around the four corners of the city. But I knew
that was really just an excuse.
I grew up in an era of Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, Ryne
Sandberg, and Harold Baines. The media painted these Chicago
legends as the quintessential sportsmen, family men, and
philanthropists. Whatever flaws they possessed were thankfully
glossed over by the media, and for many years, they remained the
darlings of Chicago sports. Having heroes to root for each week
made the experience so much more exciting and engaging.
Enter the next generation. I do not have the same crop of heroes
to offer up to my own sons. Back when I watched, nobody had a rap
sheet. Nobody shot anyone in a bar. Nobody was selling drugs to
undercover cops. What kind of "heroes" did I want to expose my kids
With media outlets clawing at each other to be the first to
reveal the latest scandal or unsavory tidbit on professional
athletes, there is little that goes undisclosed. Unfortunately,
most of the blame lands squarely on the shoulders of these
world-class athletes who do little to earn our respect outside of
the playing field. Drugs. Prostitution. Illegal gambling. Murder.
It leaves a former sports nut to wonder, "Where have all the good
I begrudgingly watched Monday night's match-up of the New
Orleans' Saints versus the Atlanta Falcons this week. My husband
had several players in his "Fantasy League" starting that night. I
will never quite understand Fantasy Football, and it stresses me
out when every little play annoys my husband. I mean, how can
someone get that upset over a stupid field goal? I'm going
against that kicker! My husband explained, exasperated.
It was late in the 4th quarter when Saints' quarterback Drew
Brees threw a short pass into the end zone that would break a 27
year-old record of passing yards in a single season held by Dan
Marino. I didn't feel that excited either way, given I wasn't sure
whether or not Drew Brees had partaken in violent dog fights at his
Yet when I watched the locker room speech that Brees gave after
the game, I perked up. He talked about team. He talked about how
each of his teammates should feel proud of the record they had
actually broken together. He thanked the coaches. He even thanked
the ball guy. It was one of the classiest speeches I've
heard from an athlete in years.
It got me interested. I "googled" Brees, and found his stats
quite impressive. He was an Academic All-American. He married his
college sweetheart. He has been heavily involved in rebuilding New
Orleans and participates in several anti-bullying campaigns. His
nickname in his hometown is "Brees-us."
I don't know if this guy will fall like the rest, but for right
now, I will be cheering for the Saints this post-season. I think it
is fitting that a guy who helped re-build a city and a football
team may also re-build my belief that there can still be real
I will watch the games with my sons next week, and when they ask
who we are cheering for, I will finally tell them without
hesitation. Number 9. We like Number 9.
Thank you, Drew. I needed that.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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