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This GeekMom Loves Football
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Photo: Judy Berna

You might have noticed that the GeekMom writers geek out about a wide range of subjects. We all enjoy different things and love finding out that our readers also love some of our very favorite things. I may not be able to knit, and have never cared for unique flavored teas, but I sure do love my football.

Yes, I’m a woman, and I love football. No, I didn’t pretend to like it when I was in high school and college to impress a boy. And no, I don’t like it today so that my husband and I can share more time together. I genuinely love NFL football. Like, I’ll watch games that matter to me, even if hubby’s not home.

I have my own teams. That’s basically where my love started, when I picked my official team. That was 30 years ago. I was a teenager. I had grown up with a dad who couldn’t care less about football, but a mom who loved her Dallas Cowboys. She was raised in Texas and for most of her adult life she lived in the middle of Missouri. Watching her guys play was her way of feeling a bit closer to home.

One day, I was watching with her and decided I needed a team I could root for, a team I could be passionate about, like she was with her Cowboys. Watching my choices flash across the screen for a few Sundays in a row, I kept being drawn back to the Seattle Seahawks. I didn’t know much about how football was played at that time, but I knew I loved their uniforms.

Yes, I picked my favorite team by how awesome their uniforms were, and even today I get great pleasure in the fact that they have some of the most exciting uniforms in the NFL.

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Photo: Lisa Smith

Slowly I started to understand the game. Four downs, passing plays, running plays, different positions, extra points, punts…they all became a bit more familiar. I loved having my own team to root for.

Wouldn’t you know I ended up marrying a football guy? He played in high school and halfway through college, until a pretty nasty injury ended his days on the field. But he’d been raised on football and loved spending an afternoon watching the games.

I soon realized that we’d enjoy watching games on different levels. He was analyzing plays. He understood what all the “X”s and “O”s meant when coaches explained plays. He could read what kind of play was going to happen by how the players were lined up.

I tended to enjoy the game in a different way. I watched the guys line up and kept track of what down it was. I knew how many yards they needed to make the next down, who ran the ball well and who caught passes the best. The thing I enjoyed most was knowing about the players as people. I loved the behind the scenes interviews and television specials on individual players. This was way back in the age before the internet, when a television special was all I could hope for.

I still enjoy the game that way. I like knowing that the two guys who played a hard fought game, that ended with one of them in a Super Bowl last night, used to be bunk mates in camp. Talk about a small world. When I saw them exchange words after the game, it was fascinating to know their history. Now I can know so much more about ‘my guys’ with the help of my handy internet connection.

I understand and enjoy football as a woman. I see every player who suffers an injury as some mama’s child. I see him as some woman’s husband, who might have just lost his career. It’s personal to me. While hubby saw the block he missed, I see his wife caring for him as he recovers from his injury and wonders when he can get back on the field.

About fifteen years ago, when my kids were small, I found an interesting book, on one of our weekly library visits. It was one man’s journey to the NFL. I suspected I’d like it. What I didn’t suspect was that that man, who turned out to be Payton Manning, would quickly become one of my favorite players. I loved that he was a nice guy. He came from a genuinely nice family, filled with people who care about others. He was a guy who liked to pass the football, my favorite kind of play. He was one of the newest players on the Indianapolis Colts team, and because of him, the Colts became my second favorite team.

Photo: Colts.com

In the years that we were raising our four kids, watching football was a rare treat. We moved from one state to another four times in ten years, settling the kids into new schools and new lives over and over again. We rarely had ‘good’ cable television. The teams we cared about seemed to never be broadcast in our area. We counted ourselves lucky when a great game came on and we were able to watch it.

The kids got older and our time opened up. We caught a few more games, but all that was being broadcast to our Utah home was endless Broncos games, one of my Seahawk’s rival teams. It made me mad.

In January of 2004 I had an elective amputation of my left foot. My first permanent prosthetic leg was made a year later and had the Seahawks logo laminated inside. I loved carrying my team around with me with every step. Unbelievably my team, the team that generally had good seasons but never seemed to have great ones, found themselves in the Super Bowl that year. I was positive that they made it because of my lucky Seahawks leg.

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Photo: Sam Berna

We made a Seahawks snowman in the front yard. We decorated the house and got out all of our Seahawks gear. It was a very exciting time, even if those darn Steelers actually left the stadium with the trophy.

Fast forward almost a decade and now we live in Denver. Now I’m personally surrounded by those crazy Broncos fans. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my favorite guy, Payton Manning, left the Colts to play for the Broncos the same year I moved to Colorado. There was no way I could root for a team I’d hated for so long, unless the guy I’d rooted for, for so long, was the leader of the pack.

But as of last night, things got sticky. This team that is now my “home” team, whose fans wear their orange proudly just about every day, will meet my 30 year loves, the Seahawks, in the Super Bowl. I’m the lone Seahawks fan in Colorado.

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Photo: Emily Harvey

I got a brand new prosthetic leg just six months ago. This one is covered on the outside with Seahawks logos. Another ‘lucky leg’. And what do you know—another Super Bowl. Coincidence? I think not.

This year has been the perfect storm in my football life. When we switched cable providers we got the sports package free. I got to watch every single game my team played. I’ve never had that opportunity before, and it was wonderful. It meant I was becoming more deeply in touch with my team. I got to know their players better and found fun sites where I can see the behind the scenes. As the games progressed they became “my boys”. I was so incredibly proud of their almost undefeated season. They were blessed with a rookie quarter back who had been raised by a strong father figure and had a throwing arm that was as strong as his work ethic. For 30 years my team has waited for a quarterback this strong. It is our year.

So this football loving GeekMom will wear her Seahawks jersey for the next two weeks and deal with the sneers and comments she might get from the Broncos fans who surround her. She will click on her lucky leg every morning and wear shorts as often as she can to show off it’s Seahawks logos–because she loves the game of football. She loves her team, always has and always will. She’ll be cheering loudly from her couch, covered in Seahawks gear, when her long-time favorite quarterback meets up with her favorite team of all-time. You’ll recognize them. They’ll be the ones in the awesome uniforms.

Judy Berna

Judy Berna is the amputee wife of an archaeologist, the mother of four children, ages 13-22, and the author of her first book, "Just One Foot: How Amputation Cured My Disability." After living in NH, MO, D.C., UT and NY, she and her family have finally settled in a mountain town in Colorado.

1 Comments
  1. I am a 31 year Seahawks season ticket holder. I can’t attend every game anymore but have a family/friends group who do. My son saw our Hawks earn their way into the Super Bowl yesterday. I also have a beloved nephew and his family in Denver. They had a sweet baby girl in October and gave me a trip to meet her for Christmas. They are Broncos fans. So, on Feb. 13, win or lose, I will get off the plane in Denver in my 12 jersey.

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