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DEATH OF MY CHILDHOOD HERO

NFL Quarterback Roman Gabriel (1940-2024)



HERE is Roman Gabriel's NYT obituary.


I entered 6th grade at the age of eleven, weighing 65 pounds and yet absolutely obsessed with somehow, someday playing organized football. In 1970 I wasn't anyone's idea of an athlete and way too light for Pop Warner League youth football, but I was already practicing for the day when I could finally be able to play. And although my path to the playing field would only be as a punter and kicker-- skills that even a non-athlete could hone through sheer force of will and endless practice-- my hero, my beacon, the force that beckoned me onward and upward-- was an NFL quarterback... Roman Gabriel of the Los Angeles Rams.


I was never sure why Roman Gabriel captured my fancy when I was so young... maybe it was his professional wrestler-like name, or that he was such a noticeable presence on the NFL gridiron... who knows? I watched him every single autumn Sunday, living and dying on his wins and losses.


His passing is very sad for me, because he changed the course of my life.


Playing football-- even as a self-taught kicker and punter-- provided me the with one thing that made me feel good about myself as a teenager. I eventually became proficient enough to be a walk-on starter on an actual college football team, which gave me an immediate identity on campus-- I had teammates, a built-in social life, and entree into a fraternity. Although my preoccupation with all of that stuff in lieu of academics forestalled my entrance into what we think of as adulthood, in my particular circumstances it served me rather well.


And so, from the bottom of my sad heart, I thank you, Mr. Roman Gabriel, for giving me so much and making such a difference in my life.



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