Paul L. Caron

Sunday, October 2, 2022

What Football Can Teach Us About Death: Fathers Are Fullbacks

The Federalist Op-Ed:  What Football Can Teach Us About Losing A Loved One, by Mike Kerrigan (Hunton Andrews Kurth, Charlotte, NC):

Two close friends, Greg and Michael, lost their fathers earlier this summer. I never met either of their dads, but I know they were good men from the sons they raised. ... For the first time when they look up, their fullback is not out in front blocking. It’s unsettling at any age because clearing a path is what good fathers do. They quietly take the hits so their children can achieve things they never imagined for themselves. It’s what John Quincy Adams was articulating when he said, “I am a warrior, so that my son may be a merchant, so that his son may be a poet.” ...

Greg and Michael are not children anymore. They have their own families for whom they’ve sacrificed for years. ... [M]y friends are no longer running backs. They are fullbacks now, permanent blockers. A gradual, lifetime transition is made official. ... Each knows embracing their new roles is the best way to honor the legacy of their fathers.

Most importantly, each is learning true happiness in this life lies in seeking the good of another with a heart of self-emptying love.

This is the essence of the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis: “O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” Gentle Saint Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of fullbacks; who knew?

Greg and Michael are learning this important lesson, although only in their fathers’ death can the fullness of it be appreciated. In that sense, their dads are still blocking for them after all.

Op-Eds by Mike Kerrigan:

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