Reflections on a bye week: Football Widows

October 2nd, 2005

Reflections on a bye week: Football Widows

On each and every Sunday, my wife becomes a football widow. Early in the morning I go off to tailgate and come home late after a day of Steelers football. During football season, its seems like we never see each other on weekends. I imagine that all over the country there are football widows waiting for their husbands or wives to come home from the game.

So for the bye week I dedicated my time to my wife. Monday morning after the loss to the Patriots in week 3, we were leaving for a vacation. I usually buy electronic tickets when I travel, but for some reason this trip required paper tickets. So instead of using the self-service electronic kiosks at the airport, we went to the old-fashioned personal check-in counter for US Airways. Who do you guess was was also at the counter? None other than Bill Cowher. On any Monday morning Coach Cowher is either a god or a whipping post for the Steeler Nation. But on this particular Monday he was just Bill. A smiling, friendly man, not the characteristic Jaw. Why this particular change in persona you might ask? Well it’s because Bill was with his wife.

Standing shoulder to shoulder with him I was at a loss for words. I’m not particularly impressed by celebrity and I have a respect for privacy so I didn’t want to intrude. Besides it is hard enough to deal with the airlines without having nosy people in your face. But I started thinking…How would I address him: Coach, Mr. Cowher, Sir? What would I say? Perhaps, “Good game yesterday Coach. We’ll get ’em next time.” But then I thought of Brett Favre’s Priceless Monday Morning Quarterback commercials for Mastercard. I’d have double-bagged them. I quickly thought of anything that I could get him to autograph, but it was all packed in my luggage. And while I was hoping he’d just turn around and shout, “Go Steelers,” to the whole airport, someone came from across the concourse to pester him. That was my brush with the Great Bill Cowher. (Although I’ve seen him several times at Training Camp, this was proof of how small a community Pittsburgh is. I’m sure everybody would have gotten a good laugh if I just said, “Hey you look a lot like that that football coach, what’s his name?” Think he would have said, “Yeah, I get that a lot.”)

As he left to escort his wife through the security gate, I remembered why we were both here: our spouses. As tough and complicated as life is, it is important to place family first, to sometimes drop everything and spend time with your spouse or loved ones. And at that moment I had more respect for Bill Cowher simply because he made the time and effort to take his wife to the airport. Took the time to do it himself.

I owe an immense amount of gratitude to my wife. She has been there to support me when I struggle, and to kick me in the ass when I needed it. My greatest cheerleader and my strongest critic. She also gave up two days of her vacation so I could go to the Patriots game. So the off week was devoted to her. I can survive six months without football, but I’d be lost forever without her.

To all the loving spouses, thank you for understanding us on Sundays.

To all the football widows who lose their spouses once a week, there are only thirteen more weeks in the season…unless of course we go to the playoffs…then we’ll have to go to Detroit, and then Honolulu……..

Steelers Bye Week

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