Loving white laces

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 15, 2005

My dearest Deborah:

It is with heavy heart that I write this letter.

As you are perhaps already well-aware, my mind has been drifting a bit as of late. I fail to immediately answer your questions. It's like I'm somewhere in a dream world. I hear you speak, but it's like I'm failing to comprehend your words.

All of that has led me to the assumption that you must feel I'm coming across as an uncaring individual.

That is really not the case. I do deeply care for you, as I have for the past 26-plus years. I've enjoyed and still enjoy the love we share, but…dare I say it…there's another in my life.

There, it's finally off my chest. I feel relieved for finally coming out in the open. I'm hoping that by being truthful, open and honest with you that you'll understand the feelings I have for this other love of my life. With your love and understanding, perhaps all three of us can work through this situation.

Deborah, I love football.

Just seeing that oblong brown ball makes me feel like a young teen experiencing their first love. The smell of its leather is as sweet as honey. When I run my fingers across its white laces, my heart pounds so much to the point where it feels as though it may explode within my chest.

My passion runs so deep for this other love that it has led me to lie to you. I can only ask for your forgiveness.

On those Friday nights in the fall when you thought I was here at the office, I was actually out covering high school football games. I was able to hide that from you by writing those sports stories under my pen name n Billy Harrell.

On those Saturday afternoons when I told you I was visiting my sick great aunt in the rest home, I was in Murfreesboro, Greenville or Raleigh fulfilling my lust for football at games involving Chowan College, East Carolina and NC State.

A few weeks back, I thought you may had been tipped-off about my second love when I came home sunburned from Chowan's game at Randolph-Macon College. However, I was able to convince you that the redness was a nagging side effect of the three wasp stings I experienced while working in the yard a month or so ago (well before the start of the football season; no real man does yard work on Saturday afternoons after Labor Day).

As you may have noticed over the years, I'm never at home on Monday nights from September through early January. Again, I was able to convince you that my absence on that particular night was work-related.

I must admit to you now that at 9 p.m. on Monday nights, I have a date with Al Michaels and John Madden. No, no, dear…it's not that. Al and John comprise the broadcast team for ABC's Monday Night Football.

When I hear Hank Junior's "Are You Ready for some Football," my knees go as weak as a teenage girl getting her first kiss (not that I know anything about young girls and kissing).

Before Al and John, my love affair for football included the likes of Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford, "Dandy Don" Meredith, Keith Jackson, Jack Buck, Dan Deirdorf and O.J. Simpson, who, unlike something I would never think of doing, killed his wife. Heck, I even thought Dennis Miller was funny, at least whenever I could comprehend what he was saying.

I could go on and on about my other love, but I don't mean to upset you at this most sensitive point of our relationship.

Again, I just hope you can understand. I promise that I'll be faithful to you and only you just as soon as the final gun sounds to end Super Bowl XL (40 for you non Roman Numerical folks). Not that I'm counting or anything, but that big game is only 142 days away n Feb. 5, 2006 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.

Meanwhile, please overlook my absence from home. I still love ‘ya, but it's football season.

If you cut your hair or change around something in the house, please don't expect me to notice until Feb. 6 at the earliest.

And please, during this time, try to overlook the beer and onion dip stains in my recliner. Yes, I know there are fingernail holes already showing in the arms of my recliner and, yes, I know it appears to be leaning slightly to the left from efforts to help my kicker nail a 50-yard field goal. I promise to clean-up my mess and fix the chair, at least before Valentine's Day.

With all my love,