On Hope and a 41-year old Quarterback
I’m not sure why the New York Times headline, “Quarterback Testaverde to Return to Jets,” brought me to tears. I’m not that into Vinny Testaverde. Truth be told, I’m not into football all that much either, lately. But in the same week that I wished my father (recovering from a prolonged illness) and grandfather (recently widowed after 60+years of marriage) their respective “Happy” Birthdays, and interviewed for a job which I’m not confident I have (and the phones have been eerily silent), and then read today’s headlines: “Iraqi Teachers Gunned Down,” or “Storm Victims May Face Curbs on Bankruptcy,” or “Former FEMA Chief Blames Local Officials for Failures,” or any headline for the past month that started with “Hurricane (Name Here),” suddenly, the return of a 41-year old quarterback was really good news.
Maybe it has to do with hope. Without Chad Pennington, or even backup quarterback, Jay Fiedler, both sidelined with shoulder injuries, the Jets season looks as promising as, as…I’m in such a funk, I can’t name something that’s even remotely promising. As promising as me thinking of something that’s promising.
My father made, what some would call, a miraculous recovery. He did what others said could not be done. Against all odds, he made it. And when he returned to that hospital recently for a visit, after staying there for six long weeks, recovering without any brain damage, without any organ damage, walking on the legs they said he’d lose from the blood loss, he was applauded by the hospital staff. They knew, that was Hope walking out the door.
So, you see, with the return of Vinny Testaverde to the rudderless Jets, suddenly, there is hope on the horizon. Maybe just a faint green glimmer, but it’s there.
Emily Dickinson, one of my favorite poets, wrote,
“Hope” is the thing with feathers
Today, for me, hope is the guy with a green and white jersey, a quarterback, formerly of Brooklyn, NY, who never stops at all. Funny thing, that hope. If you've lost it, you never know where it might turn up.
Now, the Jets fans, the sports columnists, the real football fans, the ones who know a thing or two about players’ career statistics or how tough the competition is or even how this new, older, former NY quarterback will fit in with this newer NY offense, they will, surely, have something to say about how hopeful this season really is. They might question how much further that bunny can go on drumming.
And when Testaverde goes to Baltimore on Sunday to back up the Jets’ backup backup QB, Brooks Bollinger, will I still have hope? I think the answer is, yes. Maybe not for the Jets or their lame-out-of-the-gate season. But hopeful, still. Again. And it has nothing to do with football.
There is a very hopeful line in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy which, though it’s no “J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets,” might serve in some inspirational capacity for Jets fans:
All that is gold does not glitter,
not all those who wander are lost;
the old that is strong does not wither,
deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
a light from the shadows shall spring;
renewed shall be blade that was broken,
the crownless again shall be king.*
Here’s to all the strong, old, wandering, deep-rooted, glitterless gold in the world, particularly the ones wearing a green & white #16 jersey. Thanks for the hope. Go Jets!
* The King referred to in this stanza is Aragorn, Son of Arathorn, exiled heir to the throne of Gondor, who’s Elvish name, “Estel,” means, “Hope,” and who was quoted in the story as saying, “There is always hope.”
That was far too much geeky information, wasn’t it? ;- )