Another immigrant kid somewhere looking forward to American
football on Sunday
August 13, 2004
Last Sunday was a beautiful sunny
day in Canton, Ohio. A perfect day for the Pro Football Hall of
Fame ceremony and the enshrinement
of John Elway as one of the four 2004 inductees! A good friend
of mine and I made a pact years ago that when the time comes for
Elway, we would be right there cheering for him just as we did
for over ten years when he made those miraculous comebacks and
made the impossible seem possible!
By the time Elway took the podium to make his acceptance speech,
the clouds had already caught up with the sun. It was suddenly
breezy and cool. Honestly, I don't remember much about his speech
as I was scrambling to take pictures and trying to capture the
moment on my camcorder, until my friend told me to stop and enjoy
As Elway was thanking his family, friends, coaches
and teammates, he became emotional a few times. After a while,
I was not hearing his words! I was just sitting there staring at
him talk! I guess I was finally enjoying the moment!
I remembered an immigrant kid trying so hard to make sense of his
life in this new country. Everyday, he would go to school striving
to survive, make good grades and make his loving parents proud.
After all, they had given up their lives in their home country,
so he and his sister can have better lives in America.
when it appeared that he was making progress, he was somehow reminded
that he was a stranger in a strange land. He had nothing in common
with his new fellow citizens and assimilation was so far away that
it was almost unthinkable then!
But there was always Sunday! He knew that on Sunday when he switches
the TV on, John Elway, Jerry Rice, Walter Payton and ... would
give him all they've got. Although it would take several games
and Sundays before he would actually understand the game, their
greatness was obvious right from the start long before he really
understood the scoreboard, the significance of field goals, first
downs and etc.
Every Sunday, Rice would make a catch and magically
make twenty yards out of nothing, while making cornerbacks (defenders)
look helpless. Payton would dash his way into ten yards while breaking
And then there was John Elway! Elway would do it all: throw the
ball for a complete pass under pressure; scramble for yards when
there was not an open receiver; sacrifice his body for first downs;
and make Fourth Quarter comebacks so regularly that after a while
the kid began to think that he slacked off until the end of the
game just to make it interesting!
But perhaps most importantly,
Elway would make the kid forget about the chaos in his life for
a few hours. For a few precious hours, he would be right there
on the field with Elway through the highs and lows, complete passes,
interceptions, touchdowns, hard hits and sacks. At the end, win
or lose (losing was rare during those years for Elway), Elway would
be THE MAN, because he has given it all while facing great adversity.
What a great escape for the kid! Elway has made his week!
By the time Elway’s speech was over, I was fighting my tears.
He was only a few yards away from me. I couldn’t help thinking
about another immigrant kid somewhere in this country today looking
forward to Sundays to watch his/her favorite football player. I
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