I was so looking forward to the column I planned to write today. I had the headline picked out weeks ago: A Tale of Two Rodgers.
I intended to explain in the first sentence one of the Rodgers has a “d” and an “s” and the other does not, and that the fate of the Green Bay Packers, my Green Bay Packers, lay in their hands. It would have been so clever.
Then Tom Brady ruined it.
Alas, there’ll be no Rodgers determining the outcome of today’s Super Bowl. Not the “d/s” version on the field and not the other one bringing them luck.
The column I had hoped to write was 13 years in the making, the seeds sown on a Thursday night in November of 2007. Rodgers, with the “d/s,” was on TV. And Roger, without, was in my arms.
But it goes back even further than that.
Rick Staron was a U.S. Navy veteran when he showed up at Luzerne County Community College in the mid-90s. Although he never took a class with me, he wrote for the student newspaper, which I advised, and the two of us hit it off immediately. He drove a big boat of an old car which he named “Lucy,” short for the Lusitania. Rick and I are friends to this day, which says a lot seeing he was and is a Dallas Cowboys fan.
I was there when the look on Rick’s face proved there is such a thing as love at first sight. Unfortunately, it also proved life can be cruel because the object of his affection (1.) didn’t know he was alive, and (2.) obviously was out of his league. His words, not mine, but hard to disagree with.
I was also there a few years later when that same lovely young lady became his wife, proving this time that, yes, God answers prayers.
Which brings us to Roger Staron, their son.
When Rick told me he and Natalie had decided to name their baby boy Roger, I joked that it had to be after Roger Federer, the tennis champion.
Or maybe track star Roger Bannister, the first person to run a sub-4 minute mile.
I knew, of course, the real reason. It was after Roger Staubach, Rick’s favorite football player.
This was 2007. Thursday night football was new and you could only get it on the NFL Channel. Rick’s Cowboys and my Packers were each 10-1 and scheduled to play on Thursday night, Nov. 29, and since Rick had the NFL Channel, he suggested it was the perfect time for me to come over to watch the game and to meet his new son. I said only if I could bring the pizza and beer and Rick didn’t argue.
It started to be a pretty bad night for the Packers. Quarterback Brett Favre got hurt and left the game but not before throwing two interceptions. The Cowboys took a commanding 27-10 lead, meaning it was time for me to devote all of my attention to baby Roger, who just woke up from his nap.
While I held Roger and paced around Rick’s living room, the Packers' backup quarterback entered the game. A guy named Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers promptly threw a touchdown pass and I said, “Hey, Rick, I think this baby is a Packers good luck charm.” Rick laughed. But not for long.
Rodgers started scrambling for first downs, threw a pass down to the one-yard line and when the Packers scored to make it 27-24 Rick demanded his baby back. “Nothing doing,” I said, tightening my grip on the little tyke.
I was certain the Packers were going to win and I was certain it was because of the magical powers of this baby. But Roger, nestled comfortably in my arms, began to doze, and when he did, so did the Packers.
Roger fell sound asleep and the Packers lost 37-27.
Favre came back the next week and quarterbacked the team for the rest of the season, but Aaron Rodgers, unaware of the baby boy nestled in the arms of a lifelong Packers fan bringing him luck, was so impressive in that Thursday night appearance that the next season the job was his.
I never again sought Roger’s magical powers on behalf of the Packers, but had decided this might be the year and this Sunday — Super Bowl Sunday — might be the day. Maybe I should have reached out to him two weeks ago. Don’t ask how I intended to once again cuddle him in my arms now that he’s 13 years old and weighs 125 pounds.
Still, I wish I gave it a try. I hear Roger’s now a Cowboys fan like his dad, and it’s not like he’s been using his magical powers on them.
Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist every week for Greater Pittston Progress every week. Look for his blogs online during the week at pittstonprogress.com.