Mom and football

Waxing nostalgic on the run-up to the Super Bowl

Guest commentary author and baseball devotee Danny Wilson’s piece on the opposite page this week got me thinking about my memories of Candlestick Park. However, my sport of choice was football, not baseball, although I went to my share of Giants games at The Stick, too.

That’s right, growing up I was a dedicated San Francisco 49ers fan. I won’t say my family was obsessive about the team, but my friends might take exception to that. The other day, I was in the Bay Area visiting some childhood pals and one of them reminded me that my home there was covered in Niners memorabilia during football season.

Somewhere in this world there’s a studio portrait of grade-school-age me, my older brother, Joel, and our yellow Labrador, Monty, all decked out in 49ers gear. These days, it probably could qualify for entry into one of those Awkward Family Photos books. The portrait was my mother’s idea. And football, even during some rocky years in our lives, brought our little family together.

My mom couldn’t afford to take me and my brother to games all the time, but she managed to get us to The Stick at least once or twice each year. Over the years, we watched some of the greatest names in the game—Joe Montana and company, including some of my favorite players: Dwight Clark, Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig, Jerry Rice, John Taylor and Tom Rathman, to name a few.

She threw some pretty epic Super Bowl parties back in the day. I remember her making dolphin-shaped bread for the showdown between the Miami Dolphins and the Niners back in ’84. I was in fourth grade. And just as my mom had predicted, San Francisco would go on to “fry their fishy rivals,” as she put it on a homemade poster.

I very distinctly remember how sad my mom and I were when Montana announced he was leaving the team. We made it to The Stick for his last game on a very rainy Monday night. And I remember wearing my “I love Joe” T-shirt to post-Montana games. It took me a little while to get on board with Steve Young. I’m sure Brett Favre fans can relate, though both Young and now Aaron Rodgers went on to prove naysayers wrong.

I’ll always be a Niners fan, but I’m not crazy about football these days. Like other things I was born into, such as organized religion, I’ve mostly outgrown it.

I’ve got no dog in the fight for this weekend’s big game, but I happen to have lived in Littleton, Colo., just outside of Denver, for a year when I was a wee one. So, I’m going to break out the beanie I’ve held onto for the past, oh, I don’t know, 35 years, and hope the Broncos take the title.

As one might guess about a woman who cannot let go of a fraying childhood stocking cap, I’m a bit sentimental. So, I’m sad to see the end of Candlestick. Then again, nothing lasts forever.

Melissa Daugherty is editor of the CN&R