I don’t have an athletic bone in my body.

Outside of figure skating, and the occasional tennis match, I seldom watch sports on TV.

I’m more for feeling my way through a romantic comedy, drama, or inspirational movie — the kind that makes you want to stand up and cheer or at least grab a box of Kleenex.


I don’t have an athletic bone in my body.
Outside of figure skating, and the occasional tennis match, I seldom watch sports on TV.
I’m more for feeling my way through a romantic comedy, drama, or inspirational movie — the kind that makes you want to stand up and cheer or at least grab a box of Kleenex.
Favorites? “Joshua” and “Facing the Giants” — I know, football related, but to me, more about overcoming adversity, pushing past life’s obstacles and believing in something bigger than one’s self.
But all of that changes on weekend visits to my Aunt Merdie’s in Old Forge where sports reign supreme. I’d feel out of place if I didn’t walk in and find her watching the latest game, be it football, basketball, baseball or gasp — golf.
Don’t send me hate mail. Golf, I’m sure, is an amazing game. Of patience. Something I don’t have.  
At 86-years-young, my Aunt Merdie is a font of great advice and a willing ear to listen. And a diehard football fan who’s been watching the game since she was a little girl seated at her daddy’s side.
Football becomes interesting around my aunt. She roots for the underdog. And cares about the players, not just their stats, but who they are as people. Who they are off the field, just as much as on.
Like the Manning family. I remember catching part of a New York Giants VS Houston Texans game at her house and hearing all about quarterback Eli Manning, older brothers Peyton and Cooper and dad Archie, and what a great living family they are.  
Three quarterbacks in the same family, how often does that happen?
Here at work, the Giants don’t get a good rap, seems I’m surrounded by birds, er ...Philadelphia Eagles fans. I guess I started rooting for the Giants just to go against the grain  ...or kill two birds (Group Editor Dino F. Ciliberti and Sports Writer Jason S. Renard — Eagles fans) with one stone. 
Which brings me to the reason for my rambling - a New Year’s Resolution.
What if I resolve to learn more about football? Breaking out in beads of sweat at the mere thought, I do have to admit it is kind of fun to overhear the trash talking, witness the team spirit and take in the sea of people proudly sporting team colors.
Like my friend Tim Downs, for instance, BIG TIME Steelers fan, seldom seen without some form of black and gold apparel. Now 60, he’s been a fan since he was 5 or 6.
Favorite player? Steeler’s safety Troy Polamalu. “The guy with the real long hair,” he says at my blank stare. “He can roam around and see where the play is going to be, near the line of scrimmage or in deep coverage. He’s best known for his aggressive style of playing. Very soft spoken, but a hard-nosed player. He’s got a big heart, but when he gets in (the game), he plays 100 percent.”
I thought I’d dig a little deeper. What can football teach us? “Never take your opponent for granted. The worst thing you can do is underestimate the person who is competing against you. If you do, they will inevitably beat you,” Tim said.
George Schmitt is all about the New England Patriots — 39 years worth. “Because I used to root for the underdog and they were never very good in the beginning. Now they’re one of the elite teams in the NFL,” George said.   
His favorite player? Running back Kevin Faulk of the New England Patriots. “He did whatever was asked of him — very well,” George said.  
What life lesson can football teach? “When opportunity meets preparation, it equals success. There are no guarantees, but if you’re prepared when opportunity comes along, you have a better chance,” he said.
Joanne Hohman says her interest in football is almost as old as her son Geoffrey. He’s 21 and started playing youth football for the Stingers in the fourth grade.
Having started out knowing nothing about football, Joanne says, “But you always learn something new to keep the interest of your child.”
How does football change things? “I got closer to my son. Just sports, getting involved with your child,” Joanne said.
Has she learned all of the rules of the game? “No way. I still have problems with the calls, but Geoffrey laughs when I know why the call was made.”
Geoffrey is a major Dallas Cowboys fan.
Dana Wolf, accounting manager here at the plant, proudly supports the “Big Blue,” aka “the G-Men” — the Giants. 
Favorite player? New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs.
A Giants fan all of her life, Dana says, “I’m from Jersey, I think that’s why I like the Yankees and the Giants so much. I’ve been on the list for season tickets for the Giants for 25 years. They’re grandfathered in, so you can will them to somebody else,” she said.
What can we learn from football? “It’s an incredible display of fortitude. I think it was Vince Lombardi who said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.”
JennaRae Whitmore, classified manager at The Wayne Independent, says football can teach us teamwork. “Everyone has a certain job to do and when they do it, the team works well. And when they don’t do it, things won’t run as smoothly.”
Jenna admits to watching football once in a while. Definitely a friend after my own heart. After all, too much football can’t be good for you, can it?