When my dad would get frustrated with something the Denver Broncos were doing, we’d often work it out outside during halftime. If Rick Upchurch couldn’t catch a ball that day, I found myself running patterns in the front yard, trying hard to not get knocked out by the very stationary and very stout tree he often threw perilously close to. When Rich Karlis bounced one off of each upright in the first half, I found myself a few blocks away at the junior high, kicking a ball from further and further back. I played soccer for a lot of years, and could kick the hell out of a football. On Karlis’ least impressive day, I hit one on a junior high field from 50 yards out.
To be fair, I was kicking off of a tee. I have no idea how I might have done if dad had also wanted to try his hand as a holder.
Last year was the last time Dad and I got to watch a Broncos game together, which made this year’s opening all the more melancholy, even before a promising team did every last thing they could to give this one away. I wanted to hear him tell me why Russ was having an understatedly decent game, or see how high his voice could get while watching Coach Hackett turn a solid outing into the easiest opinion of the week for the pundits to feast upon. I was forced to settle for his voice inside my head this time… and to be fair, it still got pretty high at the end there.
With Dad on to his next adventure, I realized that maybe my turn to be on the other end of the equation had come around. This week, I made a trip to North Florida to see my daughter and two-year-old grandson, and maybe even play a little catch while catching up. I’d spent time with my daughters in their youth helping them pursue soccer and volleyball and a dozen other obsessions, but had never just taken them out front with a football or baseball and glove to simply pass it around.
It seemed my chance to pass it along had come back around.
It’s a tradition older than words on a page, passing our games and traditions down the pipe. In today’s modern sports era, having a father or mother in a professional sports league seems to heavily increase the odds that there might be offspring in the mix. While there are legendary familial duos in sports who have even taken the field together, (hi, Ken Griffeys Sr and Jr., LeBron James would like to speak to you about Bronny) there are also simply legacies that are handed down from father or mother to daughter or son.
Many of those stories have touched the Colorado and Denver faithful along the way. Families with names like Manning (Archie, Peyton, and Eli), McCaffery (Ed, Lisa, Max, Christian, Dylan, and Luke), McGee (Pam and JaVale), Bichette (Dante and Bo), Barry (Rick, Jon, Brent, and Drew), Rivers (Doc and Austin), Hardaway (Tim Sr. and Jr.), Stasny (Peter and Paul)… I’m sure the list goes on. Those were just the ones I could easily and quickly find. That list is made up the names that had one or more members cross a Colorado path. If you think of how many more there are beyond that in professional sport, you might see that we are all simply passing our best and most beloved things along to the ones we love the most.
Just ask Dell Curry.
Back here in Florida, I’m just finally getting a solid shot to try and play some catch with my young grandson. His daddy is a Jags fan, Braves fan, Gators fan, and more, and so has made sure there are sports and balls and figures in his life. While I will admit, both my throwing and his catching could use a little work – he’s two, I remind you – his touchdown celebration is purely on point. Look at the smile in the photo above to see. He’s laughing his face off. He has no idea why grandpa is a little teary, but his great-grandpa is hopefully watching from somewhere and both laughing and crying at the same time.
Just wait until he’s a little older, Pop. I’ll get him kicking off that tee.
Here’s hoping your weekend is glorious, that your teams all win, and that if you have a chance and opportunity, that you might pass something along to someone you love. No matter the score on that game, I promise you you’ll win.