Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I hear it's football season and some of you are excited about it. Post high school band I've got one football story. Just one. But since everyone else is writing about football I figure I'll jump on the marching-band wagon.

In the American off-season apparently "America" sends some of its players over to the UK to play in their tiny American Football league. Usually if you need some improvement you find yourself eating fish and chips all summer.

I used to date a guy who grew up with Brad Johnson.

The year that I lived in London was Johnson's 2nd or 3rd with the Vikings. He needed improvement. From even the little I saw of him I can tell you that he had a great arm and good technical skills but his decision making was weak. By the time he decided where he was throwing most of the time he was voicing his decision from the astroturf, flat on his back.

Anyway, guy-I-used-to-date came to London for a summer school program. Guy-I-used-to-date's mother probably made sure to tell us that Brad was playing for the London team. We found this out, of course, with about 3 days to spare before the last game of the season. So we went! We took a train and a bus and walked for a while and I still couldn't show you on a map where the hell we were. They claim we were still in London but I remain skeptical.

American Football in London is odd. The fans are appropriately zealous. They need to keep up their skills while they wait for European Football season to come back around on the guitar. There are cheerleaders, too. Of course in this particular case we had 4 male cheerleaders from the Scottish team dressed in blue tartan kilts and their method of rousing the crowd was to turn their backs and flip up their skirts. I, for one, was roused.

After the show, I mean game, we couldn't leave without telling Brad that a friend from home was there to support him so we made our way to the locker room and explained our errand to a bouncer. We were ushered into a big institutional hallway for the most awkward 15 minutes of my entire year there. Remember that I dated a plumber that year and that I told a classmate that her pregnancy didn't make her look like an alien so I had plenty of awkward to compare it with. Brad stood in the middle of the hall, freshly showered and clad in a towel. Just a towel. Keep in mind that the British have yet to embrace the concept of the "bath sheet." On a professional football player their towels looked like a stolen hotel hand towel. Despite his clear discomfort at standing around that way he carried on a conversation about old times with my ex. We bandied about the idea of having a drink at a later date but Brad was leaving the UK pretty much as soon as he could put some pants on and get on a plane. I guess he'd already seen all the sights.

Finally we left after Brad crossed the corner of nice-to-my-fans and totally-inappropriate. A man came in with his young daughter, she was perhaps 5 years old. The man was clearly smitten with this American Football God and desperately wanted to have his and his daughter's picture made with the deity. I haven't looked up the stats but Johnson is tall, something north of six feet certainly. A five year old is, well, not very tall. So imagine them standing next to each other and a camera zooming in. Hmm, not appropriate. Brad could kneel but for the teensy tiny towel. Eventually there was the world's most cringeworthy back turning, towel re-tying then lifting up of the baby girl and now the proud family has a fabulous shot of their kid, their dad and Brad Johnson's gleaming hairless chest.

I poke fun, yes, but really Brad Johnson is the nicest, kindest, hardest working dude who ever played the game and i still get a charge out of having met him.

1 comment:

  1. You tell a really great story.

    I've never met anyone famous - nor dated anyone who grew up with someone who became famous - so I have no such stories to tell.