Tom Brady’s injury – and I promise this will be the last post mentioning it, but I do live in Boston, and it is currently a bigger story than anything ever, and so it’s all one can possibly think about – and my eerie premonition of it reminded me of the fall of 1993 and Dan Marino’s Achilles injury.
Picture my family’s house in 1993 – which, if you know the house I grew up in, is easy to do, because it is a complete and total shack that you don’t know how people live in it, let alone how it’s still standing – and the characters inside. My mom, the Jim Kelly devotee; my little sister, the Dolphins fan because she liked aquatic animals at the time; me, the Steve Young obsessed 49ers fan; and my dad, amused that he lived with three women obsessed with professional football, although it was all his fault that we did. (My little brother wasn’t born yet.)
On that Sunday afternoon, I believe we had just watched a Bills 1pm loss, and my mother was livid. The Dolphins were up with a 4pm game against the Browns, and my sister had brought her stuffed animals out into the living room so that she could play with them while watching the game.
My mother stepped down into the kitchen from the living room, and I was sitting on the arm of the couch. She turned to me and, in her unmistakable Canadian accent (which comes out in all Rochestarians when they’re either excited or angry), said, “I guess all I can wish for is for Dan Marino to get hurt. If he got hurt, and was out for the season. That’s the only way this is going to end well.” She then turned and went into the kitchen to do dishes.
My dad and I sat on the couch, while Megan sat on the floor in her little Dolphins sweatshirt that my Uncle (a Jets fan – talk about a family with schizophrenic team allegiances) had given her. We were all barely paying attention to the game – I was watching while doing homework on my lap, I believe my dad may have been reading Issac Asimov, and my sister, never one to pay attention to any sport on TV despite her amazing athletic ability, was playing with the before-assembled stuffed animals.
“And Marino is down.”
All of our heads snapped up and looked at the TV. Dan Marino was on the turf, in obvious pain. Withering not unlike Brady did this past Sunday afternoon, there was no doubt in our minds that Marino had suffered a serious injury.
My dad and I were quiet, until I realized that the water in the kitchen was still running. “Mom…” I called.
My mother turned off the water and came over to the living room with her dish rag in hand. “Yes?”
I gestured to the television set. “You wanted Dan Marino to go away?”
My mom looked at Marino being helped off the field. She was silent for a moment, and then turned to me. “Oops…I didn’t mean to hurt him. I didn’t know I had that kind of power.” And with that, my mom scurried off to finish the dishes.
“Mom, did you hurt Dan Marino?” called out Megan.
“I didn’t mean to!” yelled my mother from the kitchen.
My sister gasped with drama befitting of a seven year old. “But I lllll-i-i-ike the Dolphins!”
“I am not a witch! I did not hurt your quarterback!” Mom called back, while she continued to wash the dishes.
Megan pouted, grabbed the stuffed polar bears and seals, and stormed off into our bedroom. And with that, Megan was done with football. Her tenuous like of the sport faded away. To this day, the only football she ever watches is the Super Bowl, and only because everyone around her is watching it and/or because she’s working at the pizza place that evening and has to time orders to halftime. (Insert gratuitous plug for Pontillo’s Pizza in Rochester, NY here.)
While my mother does consider Halloween her favorite holiday and Salem, Massachusetts a cool place to visit the rare times she gets to visit me, I highly doubt that she is any type of witch or spellcaster. But the timing of her comment and Marino’s injury was uncanny. So when I was speaking to my dad on the phone a few weeks ago and forecast that either Brady or Randy Moss would be hampered by a serious injury this season, he recalled my mother’s comment. “You aren’t going to do what your mom did to Dan Marino, are you?”
I laughed. “Of course not, Dad. As much as the Pats annoy me, Brady’s too hot. I couldn’t do it to him.”
Fast-forward to Wednesday evening. My father calls. “I’ve been telling all the guys at the tool shop that you called it. My daughter called it. How did you know Brady was going to get hurt?”
“I have no idea, Dad. He did miss the entire pre-season, and he’s thirty-one. Something was bound to happen. I just didn’t expect it in week one.”
“You didn’t say anything like your mom said about Marino, right?”
“No, Dad.” I reassured him. “Of course not.” And we continued on about the Bills supreme performance against the Seahawks, and how we hadn’t seen the team look that dominating in years. It was like watching another team.
Before we hung up, my dad asked again, “You sure you didn’t say anything about Brady? Anything?”
“No, Dad, we aren’t quarterback witches. If I was, wouldn’t I have said something about Troy Aikman for like six years back in the 1990s?”
“Very, very true.”