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Notre Dame, 17 ~ BYU, 14

Touchdown Jesus

 

They went. They conquered. Touchdown Jesus prevailed.

Mission Accomplished.

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Notre Dame Fighting IrishTo say that the man in my house is a Notre Dame fan would be an understatement. Mr. G, as we’ll call him, was born to a man born and raised in Indianapolis. My father-in-law grew up listening to Irish games on the radio, always cheering for the green and gold. His team, afterall, who to this day put points on the board under the famed ‘Touchdown Jesus‘, calls South Bend, Indiana, home. For those who are map-illiterate, South Bend is exactly 130 miles due north of Indianapolis. My father-in-law comes from a family that didn’t have a lot of money, but they had each other. And together, with their Fighting Irish, they had it all. Saturday afternoons were spent with each other, all huddled around the portable radio, cheering for the boys and yelling at the announcer. The thought of going to a game in person… now that was nothing more than a fairytale. But through the little kitchen radio my father-in-law could dream, and dream he did.

There was no questioning who my husband would be raised to cheer for. No question what his favorite color would be (green). No question what his favorite movie would be (Rudy). And to be fair, guys, my husband did not cry when we got married. He did not cry when we had our firstborn. But he did cry when we watched Rudy together. Oh. And that firstborn I mentioned? She came out wearing a Notre Dame hat. I’m not kidding. And when we smiled at each other and said ‘I do’ I also made a promise that day – a promise to my husband that our children would be raised Notre Dame fans. Forget the fact that we both graduated from a great school out west… I had made a promise and that promise is one that can’t be broke.

“Hello divorce lawyer? Are you there?” Yah. It’s that bad. If I even think about cheering for anyone else my butt will be kicked to the curb.

So when the leaves start to change and a small chill rises in the air, I know one thing: hibernation season is over, the man in my house is ready to watch football. Folks, he couldn’t even tell you what channel ESPN is, (lucky for him the Notre Dame games all air on NBC), but come football season a side that I’m not entirely familiar with emerges and he goes full Chuck Norris in the living room while watching his team on the flatscreen.

Since we said ‘I do’ I’ve learned a lot about Notre Dame. We watched a lot of Charlie Weis and Brady Quinn in the early days. This year we think Manti Te’o is great… and really, who wouldn’t? His family story is a Cinderella story in and of itself. Girlfriend and Grandma die hours apart… Te’o finds therapy in returning to the grid iron and having what many call ‘the best game of his life’ against Michigan State four days later. Fast forward three weeks later and Notre Dame is undefeated at 6-0.

This week the Fighting Irish take on the Mormon Cougars out of BYU. Being from Utah myself, this game is big. You see, I grew up going to BYU games. While my husband was a little boy in the Midwest cheering for the Irish, I was the little girl who went to games at Cougar Stadium with my mom and dad. (That’s where they met. Then again, it seems as though that’s where most young Mormon couples meet.) Although I didn’t go to BYU, it’s still the team my family cheers for. My extended family. Not my family… you remember that clause I signed at the alter. “I will raise our children to be Notre Dame fans.”

Now we live in Milwaukee. And BYU is headed east. They’re taking on the Irish at Notre Dame Stadium this Saturday. For us, there couldn’t be a bigger game. And you know what? We have tickets. You hear that? We have tickets! But I’m not going. I’m not. I’m going to sit with our little ones while my husband enjoys the game. For him, this is more than a game; this is more than a fall afternoon in little old South Bend. This is about my husband inviting his father to the game. It’s about memories that have been 30+ years in the making. It’s about my father-in-law seeing his dream to watch his favorite team in person, come true. It’s about my husband doing something with his father that his father enjoys (because Mr. G never did like fishing with his dad anyways).

My husband is a simple man; his father even more so. But when I drop them off at the stadium Saturday afternoon, it will be hard to hold the tears back as I watch them enter the stands together, for the first time.

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