Walking Away From the NFL: One Fan’s Story
Every fan has a breaking point. This is the story of mine.
For all my life I’ve only been a fan of one sport: American football. But not just any football. I never cared for college or high school games—I was an NFL addict. And like most fans of the NFL, I had a favorite team. They were my rock, my security, my reminder of home and better days.
That team was the San Francisco 49ers, and that team was my very identity—everyone who knew me knew I bled scarlet and gold.
But recently, I’ve decided to walk away from it all. And it’s not for the reasons you’re probably thinking.
This is my story.
The birth of a fan
I was born in the Bay Area of California, and moved to South Florida before turning ten. It wasn’t until after the 49ers won their first Super Bowl that my affinity for football began. And when it came to selecting a team to root for — even though I was knee-deep in Miami Dolphin country — I stayed true to my roots.
Having been transplanted from the West Coast to the East Coast, I was thrown into a whole new world. A new family, a new school, a new environment, and a new climate—all so very far removed from the Bay Area that I called home.
It was during the glorious 1980s — while painfully longing every day for my home 3,000 miles away — that my “home team” became a dominant force in the NFL, eventually earning the nickname The Team of the 80s.
I found my identity and escape through players such as Joe Montana, Wendell Tyler, Dwight Clark, Bubba Paris, Ray Wersching, John Taylor, Bill Ring, Tom Rathman, Manu Tuiasosopo, Charles Haley, Randy Cross, and Roger Craig (whom I’ve never forgiven for that NFC Championship game fumble against the Giants). These men became as much a part of me as was my hairstyle, my clothes, and my name.
Whenever I played football with the other neighborhood kids, I was always Jerry Rice running routs on offense, nicknaming myself Sure Hands Pattison. And on defense I became my…