My love for football just not the same

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2017

love football. I have for as long as I can remember. I think my love for the game began in 1969 at the age of 5 when I found out my Mom was from the same hometown as the quarterback for the Ole Miss Rebels, Archie Manning. Of course my allegiance to the university in Oxford was instantaneous and I have “pulled” for the Rebs ever since.

Even though I lived in northern California at the time, I still followed Ole Miss through the down-trodden years of the 70s and finally got to see my team in person when John Fourcade was under center in the early 80s and they faced Tulane in the New Orleans Superdome.

I had never seen Ole Miss play in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium until a couple years ago when I went to work for the Oxford Eagle as managing editor. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

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As a former sports writer for 15 years in Picayune, very few knew of my love for Ole Miss football because I didn’t want my reporting in some way to be perceived as bias. So when it came to light in the last few years that I did in fact cheer for the Rebels, some believed I was jumping on the proverbial band wagon because Ole Miss was winning. That certainly wasn’t the case.

They have been my team for a very long time and will continue to be.

But my love for football didn’t just extend to Oxford. In northern California in the 70s, my buddies rooted for the Oakland Raiders who were the winning franchise in the Bay Area. I, on the other hand, cheered for the San Francisco 49ers.

My Dad took me to Candlestick in 1972 because the 49ers were hosting that former Ole Miss quarterback and the New Orleans Saints. Rather than pick a team, I pulled for them both and still do. That is, until recently.

The NFL that I grew up on in the 70s is not the NFL of today. Today’s NFL doesn’t resemble that league for a lot of reasons. It seems players today with their high-profile status and astronomical contracts have decided to use their stature to promote not only themselves, but their causes.

It seems professional football is no longer about the game and is overshadowed by huge egos of many of its high-profile players.

Before the start of last season, I publicly professed that I wouldn’t pull for my beloved 49ers because their then quarterback decided to promote his cause by refusing to stand for the National Anthem.

His National Anthem protest has spread to many players throughout the league and as a result, I have decided I will not watch any televised NFL games this season. It’s a boycott I don’t take lightly.

Football has been a part of me for as long as I can remember.

I love football and will still cheer for my Rebels no matter the outcome of the NCAA investigation. My 49ers will always have a place in my heart, but I love my country even more and respect the sacrifice of so many who have allowed me to enjoy the life I am blessed with.

Rob Sigler is editor of The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at Readers are invited to submit their opinions for publication.