How I almost quit football

Key Contributor, Green Bay Packers

 

By Marcela Vargas //

My father passed away on October 25th, 2016. That’s a date I will never forget. He was a Cowboys fan and we used to spend Sundays together, religiously watching as many football games as we could handle in a single day and with a single screen. When I discovered football and the NFL, seven years ago, he was a bit surprised but happy to tag along for that ride.

He had watched the game before when my older brother was a kid, and both the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolphins were huge in Mexico. Now, he would listen to every story I told about the Green Bay Packers. He would care about the statistics, the changing rules, the name of every wide receiver, cornerback and backup quarterback that I mentioned. He would look around and try to buy for me any piece of Packers merch he could find in Mexico City stores. Scarves, tumbler cups, action figures, plushies, gloves too large for my own hands.

Then he got sick, went to the hospital, and died. And I almost quit football.

It’s a cliché, but after my father left, the world lost a bit of color. Like someone had messed with its filters and turned the saturation and vibrancy down. Everything seemed dull, grey, lifeless.

A couple of weeks later, my boyfriend went to live abroad for a year. He’s a Giants fan and loves to make nachos and guacamole on gameday. I still had my mom with me, but even though she deeply cares about this game, soccer and baseball are closer to her heart – and she also stopped watching sports for a while. Then there was my brother, but he was pretty much as shaken as I was.

We tried to keep up, but that season was lost to me. I watched the playoffs and almost hoped that Dak Prescott would beat my Packers in the NFC Championship match in early 2017.  I wanted them to go to the Super Bowl and win for my father. They didn’t. I talked extensively at Three and Out on IESports Radio about both teams, trying to bring new life into my own love of the sport. Then the Super Bowl came and I watched it on Skype with my boyfriend. The Patriots won over the Falcons and I couldn’t have cared less. I was sad, angry, annoyed. It wasn’t even a good game. It kind of sucked.

Months went on with me pushing football away. It was a tug of war between my sincere love of this game and my grief over my favorite person to share it with. I offered to be the editor of OurTurf Football’s newsletter and did well for a few months. Then I let it slip between my day job and the few social activities I was packing my days with. I tried to cover the hole that my father’s passing left in my life. I found myself up to my neck in work, stressing about everything, and not enjoying myself or my hobbies anymore. I couldn’t even write outside of my newsroom. This is the first piece about football that I’ve written in a while, and it’s more about how losing my father almost lost football from me.

I didn’t follow the whole of last season. It started out with bitterness in my heart and then Packers’ season got thrown away and I just couldn’t take it. I came back for a bit of the playoffs and for that incredible Super Bowl. My boyfriend is back in our country and he was rooting for the Pats, while I was rooting for the Eagles. That game did bring joy into my life. It rekindled the tiny flame inside me that warms my heart every time I watch an amazing pass or an incredible defensive play.

Free agency hurt a little, with Green Bay letting Jordy Nelson go, and losing other team members that I appreciated. But the fact that watching Nelson go broke my heart, shows me that I still care, that I still love this game, and that I still want to write about it and read whatever my football sisters have to say about it.

I moved into an apartment a few weeks ago, and while I was unpacking I came across a bunch of Packers merch my father gifted me over the years. I teared up a little. I almost lost my love of football after I lost my father, but I’m sure he would have wanted me to carry that spirit on without him.

Football was something we watched together, it was a constant activity that helped us bond during his last years on this Earth. I am grateful for those Sundays and all those hours we spent talking players and plays, joking about our teams. Football brought us together, and will now help me carry on after he’s gone.

Come August, I’ll be once again chanting “Go Pack, Go!”.

(Editors note: Welcome back, Marcela. We’ve missed you!)

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