It was Sunday, January 26, 1986, and I was only seven and a half years old. You know I had to add that half, like all little kids do. The family all jumped in the station wagon and headed to my aunt’s house for the "big game." I was still very little, mind you, and I simply can’t remember watching a Super Bowl before that.
The house was packed with people, food and many other things that little kids shouldn’t be getting into. I was given some ground rules of where to sit, and to not to touch any chocolate. Once I had chocolate, the rails were off, and I just might have missed the entire game had I gotten into those Hershey kisses...
I can still hear my Aunt screaming from the kitchen as the New England Patriots drove right down the field and scored the first points of Super Bowl XX. It was then, as the entire house erupted, that I realized this wasn’t any other game. This was something big. So I proceeded to sit down, shut my mouth and watch.
Honestly, I didn’t know who to root. At least not until I saw Jim McMahon. He had this big sweat band on his head, and I thought that was cool. It was then that I decided to start to rooting for the Chicago Bears.
I remember hearing the announcers saying the same names over and over again for all of these famous Bears players. "Payton, Hampton, Singletary." I read all the names on the back of those Chicago jerseys so I that could put the names to the faces. These guys looked like professional wrestlers to me, and because of that, the seven and a half year old me felt like I could really get down with these guys. They were "cool."
After the Patriots scored that opening field goal, I was glued to the TV set for the entire game. I knew what I was watching was something impressive too, because the score was lopsided (Mike Ditka's Bears beat the Patriots 46-10). My uncle Stan had taped the game on VHS, and a few days later he brought it to my house. I popped the tape in, and again I was glued, watching every play all over again. I started to really like football at that moment, and I started to really like the quarterback position because of McMahon himself.
If you watch a VHS tape 100 times, you will eventually wear out the tape. My mom would say "could you please put something else on besides that damn game?" and "how many times are you going to watch that?" And there I was, as a little kid, with tears in my eyes because that tape literally wore out to the point where it looked like a scrambled television channel with distorted sound. From that day on I knew that I loved football. I watched it, I played it, and now, I handicap it. And it all started on that Sunday in 1986.
Football changed my life as a kid, as a teenager and now as an adult. Looking back, I’m happy that I had that Super Bowl XX experience. And I wonder what would have happened had I actually gotten into those Hershey kisses - the ones I eventually filled my pockets with as I was leaving, to bust my parents' balls.
Even though I’m a Green Bay Packers fan - and them winning Super Bowl XXXI for me in 1997 seemingly made my entire year - nothing will top Super Bowl XX and those "cool" Chicago Bears. To this day, I still believe that team would kick any team’s ass in the NFL today. Because those guys were pretty bad ass.