Notre Dame Football and Perfect Spirals
There was only one football team in our household that you were allowed to listen to or root for, Notre Dame. We would always listen to the team on the radio or when it came on TV. My Dad was one of the most animated Notre Dame fans ever. He really got into the games and would yell cheers and advice all throughout the game. He lived and died with the success of Notre Dame Football. He had experienced discrimination as a Catholic and as an Italian in our town and had learned to overcome it. He would often say, “They can discriminate against us Catholics, give us lousy jobs and make fun of us, but we can beat them in what really counts, football!”
He was fairly athletic and he played some semi-pro football himself after the war as a quarterback. He would often jokingly remark how quarterbacks are protected in today’s modern game with rules protecting them against hits. He would say “Why don’t they put a skirt on them. When I played, they basically tried to knock the quarterback, me, out of the game.” When I attended Notre Dame, I took him to a game in South Bend when Notre Dame played Navy. We sat in the end zone and people must have thought that we were crazy because we were cheering both teams. As plays developed, he would make remarks, number 41 was holding. Sure, enough the referee would shortly announce over the microphone “holding offense number 41.” Once you view the game as a quarterback, always a quarterback. Thirty years later, to the day, when my daughter was attending Notre Dame, we all attended another Notre Dame versus Navy Game. Dad still hadn’t lost his touch and called out penalties before the referees. Luckily Notre Dame won both games.
He would often play catch with me with football. The football was an old style one more designed for kicking than passing. I would run receiver patterns and he would throw the pass to me. We would play for hours. What I remember the most was that every pass was precise and a perfect spiral with no wobble. This was yet another skill that Dad had mastered.