I (David) have had a passion for football since…well, I don’t remember ever not having a passion for football. As family folklore would have it, at about the age of two, I would lay on the carpet, one leg crossed over the other with hands behind my head, and would watch football on TV. I was the family alien. My family didn’t understand the sport nor my interest in it. As a kid, I would get in my Oakland Raider jersey, complete with helmet and shoulder pads, and try to drag the neighborhood boys out of their homes to play football. When I wasn’t playing football outside, I would play football inside, and once I dislocated my brother’s finger in the process. Sorry, Bro! And when my friend, Curtis, got Mattel’s Handheld Football Game, I knew I had to have it.
As a child, I became a BYU football fan. I don’t remember exactly when this happened, but I remember that my friend, Curtis, and I were BYU fans. A neighbor of mine, Mr. Russon, must have known about this as he gave me an autographed football from Gifford Nielsen, former BYU and Houston Oilers quarterback.
My first memory of attending a college football game was when our family went up to Logan to watch BYU play the Utah State Aggies in 1979. Utah State had the uniforms with a thick, white stripe down the side of the football pants. I thought those were pretty sweet and wished BYU’s were like those. But BYU’s helmets did have Cougar decals on them, each sticker representing a heroic act the player made for their team while in the field of battle.
Eric Hipple, who went on to be quarterback for the Detroit Lions, played quarterback for the Aggies, and Marc Wilson, who went on to be the Oakland Raider’s quarterback, played quarterback for the Cougars in that game. After all these years, I have remembered the final score to that game: BYU 48, Utah State 24.
I have remained a faithful BYU football fan. I have trained my children to be the same. Since my oldest seven children are girls, I’ve taught them how to play the game of football. Yes, even a couple of the girls want to play football in a league. Eleven of our kids are part of the Cosmo Kids Club at BYU (some pretty awesome benefits). So when Thursday’s Heroes, sponsored by the Bronco and Holly Mendenhall Foundation, teamed up with the Utah Foster Care Foundation (having adopted 9 of our 12 children from Utah Foster Care and with a current foster care placement), inviting foster families to a watch a practice, followed by a meet and greet with the team and other activities, it was a no-brainer for us.
- Christian Stewart threw four touchdowns.
- Jordan Leslie caught one touchdown.
- Alani Fua had an interception.
- AJ Moore ran for 62 yards and a touchdown.
- Austin Heder, Harvey Jackson, and Jherremya Leuta-Douyere each made at least one tackle.
And there were many others players that interacted with the kids that I could speak about.
I don’t know if our children will remember the details of the day that they got to chill with the BYU football team several years from now, as I remember details of BYU football from when I was a child, but someday I hope they see it for what it was, a chance of a lifetime.