Growing up on the farm, we were not only farmers, but also sports fans. Late winter and early spring, it was basketball. Often, I could be found on my stomach in the living room using the electric antenna rotator to get the very best UHF channel for the Boston Celtics game. Usually had to watch it through a lot of TV “snow.” The fall was football. Saturdays were good or bad depending on whether Ohio State won or lost. Sundays decided whether the week ahead would be positive or negative, hinging on how the Dallas Cowboys performed. Yes, I was a Cowboys fan because of a couple of factors—primarily, well, I was a cowboy. I was an over-the-top fan, on my knees screaming at the TV, pounding the floor!
My buddy Sonny and I would spend our fall afternoons before and after games out in the yard pretending to be Don Merredith or Bobby Hayes, or Roger Staubach and Drew Pearson. We loved Bob Lilly and LeRoy Jordan on defense. We even bought play helmets at Clicks Department Store and painted them silver and blue with the star. We wrote the players and they wrote back and sent pictures. I later found out through my friend Hall of Fame scout Gil Brandt that he started that program of having players answer their mail. Sonny and I actually became Cowboys fans when we were watching the 1967 NFL Championship game with the Packers and we thought it unfair that a team from Dallas would have to play in 15 below zero weather. That’s when it started and we followed the Cowboys into our adult years.
Imagine my excitement when my Dad asked me if I wanted to go see the Cowboys play in the 1972 Super Bowl in New Orleans. He was so understated and calm about it, “Son, would you want to go to the Super Bowl if I could get the tickets?” Do you need to ask? He was able to get the tickets from a friend. In 1972, the Super Bowl had not yet reached ”national holiday” status like it is today. Face value on the tickets was $15. We packed up and left for New Orleans. I was 16 and Dad let me drive part of the way. It was unseasonably cold, 39 degrees. We stayed about 45 miles away in Picayune, MS. We went into New Orleans on Saturday afternoon to see the sites. It was crazy. When two nice young ladies on separate occasions approached me and asked me to “party” with them, Mom called an end to the site seeing.
The game was a college-like atmosphere at Tulane Stadium. We were cold because we didn’t bring clothes for cold weather. As the game was winding down, I asked Dad if I could go down on the field. We agreed to a meeting place and I made my way to the sidelines. At that time, you could do that. I saw my favorite players actually on the field. After the game, I was moved out of the way by security as the referees were leaving the field. I was overjoyed as the Cowboys won their first Super Bowl against the Dolphins. Dallas was the team that people said couldn’t win the big game. Many on that team were Christians. And they finally won. As in 2 Chronicles 15:7, “Be strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be awarded.” And I won, too. This young farm boy going to my first Super Bowl with my Dad.