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Jeff Benedict



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This post is about what happens when a woman who doesn’t like football goes to a football game. 
But first, a quick update on last month’s post HANDS OFF MY SISTER.  My sister’s story prompted many readers to ask how they could help.  I’ve established a fund for my sister and her children.  The idea is for a lot of people to give a little bit.  It’s called “crowd funding.”
Check it out: dreamfund
NOW, ONTO TODAY’S STORY, which is a follow-up to TEN THOUSAND SPIRALS with Steve Young.  Here goes.
November 10, 2014.  It’s just past five.  I’m standing on a street corner outside Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, surrounded by fans in green and white jerseys.  In a few hours the Eagles will take on the Panthers on Monday Night Football. 
My mind is elsewhere.  The babe in the crosswalk mesmerizes me.  She’s dirty blond and has on a black leather coat and ripped jeans.  The words to a Frankie Vallie song come to mind: You’re just too good to be true; can’t take my eyes off of you; you’d be like heaven to touch; I want to hold you so much.

I can’t believe I’m married to this woman.  And it’s her birthday.  Lydia is turning 45.
Weeks earlier, Steve Young had offered to get us sideline passes.  When I asked Lydia if she wanted to spend her birthday at an NFL stadium she said: “Sounds fun.  Let’s do something different.” 

I love her attitude.  Besides, marriage needs adventure, especially in the middle innings. 
Lydia actually hates football.  She thinks the idea of big men running into each other at top speed is stupid, not to mention bad for the brain.  The only other time she went to an NFL game was about twenty-five years ago.  It was shortly after we got married.  The Patriots were playing the Dolphins in Foxboro.  Shirtless drunk men with big hairy bellies got into a brawl behind us.  It started when one of them was sexually harassing the cheerleaders.  Beer and f-bombs rained down on us.  Holy mackerel!  We missed church for this?   
Needless to say, Lydia’s first NFL game was her last.
But this time would be different.  It was a chance to spend time with Steve and watch him do the pre-game show with Trent Dilfer and Ray Lewis for ESPN.  


What happened next illustrates why my attraction to my wife goes way beneath the skin.  She can go anywhere and make fast friends with strangers.  While Steve was doing the pregame show, Lydia had finished eating a snack and was looking for a trashcan.  The only one in sight was behind the Carolina Panthers’ bench, which was cordoned off by a single strand of white chain link.  Two men in yellow jackets that said EVENT STAFF were just inside the chain.
Lydia heads toward the garbage can.
I stop her.  “If you approach the bench there is a good chance those men will tackle you,” I said. 
Undeterred, she taps one of them on the shoulder, a big burly fellow with a thick beard and a black cap.  She asks if he’d mind throwing away her trash.  He smiles.  “No problem.”
It proved my theory that men like to help pretty women.  That fact is as real as gravity. Moments earlier an ESPN cameraman gave her his hand-warmers. 
Anyway, next thing I know we are in a conversation with both security guards.  The one with the beard is Wayne Edwards.  He lives nearby in Jersey, where his day job is in public works.  He’s 39 and has three kids.
The other guy is Dave Matteo.  His other job is putting on tailgate parties at MetLife Stadium before Giants and Jets games.  He’s 48 and has three kids.  He tells us this is his first night working security at an Eagles’ game.  Wayne is showing him the ropes. 
I like guys like Wayne and Dave.  They remind me of the kind of people in my childhood neighborhood – hard working, dedicated to family, and into football. 
They had seen us talking with Steve and asked how we knew him.  Lydia said I had been helping Steve write his life story.  Wayne lights up.  “I’m a lifelong 49ers fan,” he says.  “I grew up watching Steve.  My 12-year-old son loves Steve and the Niners.” 
Lydia keeps talking while I step away and find Steve.  He comes over and introduces himself.  Dave asks Steve if he’ll pose for a photo with Wayne. 
“My son won’t believe this,” Wayne says.  “Thank you, Steve.” 
I figure this story ends here.  But Lydia gets Dave Matteo’s email address.  And she offers to send him my blog post TEN THOUSAND SPIRALS.
The next day while we drive back to Virginia she starts a back-and-forth email exchange with Dave, who forwards Steve Young’s chapter excerpt to Wayne.  Then Wayne sends Lydia the following email: 
Hi, Lydia.  My name is Wayne Edwards.  I met you last night at the Eagles game.  First, I would like to thank you for introducing me to Steve Young and to Steve for taking a picture with me.  I just read the chapter with my son and I thought it was AWESOME.  My son said, “That’s really good.  I can’t wait to read the whole thing.”  There was a part that hit home for me because Steve talks about watching Jim McMahon and through that teaches himself to really be a QB.  As my son is reading that part, he turns to me and says, “Hey, dad, that’s what you always tell me to do – watch and learn to do it the right way and mimic what you see.”  Proud dad moment here.  May have taken a book about Steve for him to see it, but he knows I taught him that method.  Let me stop rambling.  I would just really like to say thank you again.” 
I love this woman!  She runs an organic farm; home schools our kids; sells ice cream from a push cart; and recites Longfellow and Walt Whitman.  Yet here she is carrying on with guys she met at an Eagles’ game. 
Determined to write a blog post about all of this, I email Dave Matteo and ask for some brief background info on him and Wayne.  That’s when I learn that Dave also runs a boutique ticket brokerage.  Hmm.  I happen to be on the hunt for tickets to Hugh Jackman’s new Broadway play “The River.” 
Hugh Jackman performing in "The River," which opened last weekend on Broadway. 
Lydia loves Jackman and I promised her front row seats for her birthday.
When I made that promise I knew that all front row seat were sold out.  But I assured her I’d find a way.  I had to come through.  After all, I have a reputation to uphold.  Three years ago for her birthday I got her front row seats to Jackman’s one-man act on Broadway.  And I arranged for her to meet him afterward.  Jackman even gave her a birthday kiss on stage.
In need of an encore, I go to the website of Dave Matteo’s brokerage and start searching for front row seats.  Finally, I find two for the December 14th show.  Then I call Dave and tell him my situation.  I have to secure those seats. 
“I’ll take care of you,” he says.  
I can’t help worrying that some other guy whose wife is in love with Jackman is going to snatch those seats.  C’mon, Dave.  Pull through for me big fella.
The next day he texts me: Front row center tix are secured.
I can’t wait to tell Lydia.  I sense more drama coming. 


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For the past two years I've helped Steve Young research and write his life story for his family. I asked him if I could post an excerpt. This is from a chapter called, "Ten Thousand Spirals."


August 18, 1980. I entered the Smith Field House on Brigham Young University’s campus to get my equipment and locker assignment. I was eighteen and fresh out of high school. Close to one hundred players milled around in street clothes. I was the only guy from Connecticut. I didn’t know anybody and nobody knew me. Depth charts for each position were taped on the wall. I ran my finger down the quarterbacks list:

Jim McMahon
Eric Krzmarzick
Royce Bybee
Jym Kimball

I scanned all the way to the eighth and final spot before I found the name I was looking for: Steve Young.

I spun around, leaned back against the wall and dropped my head. I had never been eighth in anything. At Greenwich High I was captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams.

What am I doing here?

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Hands off my sister.

There will be no pictures in this blog post.

I’m nine years older than my sister Charity. I fed her from a bottle and changed her diapers. I put Band-Aids on her knees and made her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She was nine when I yanked her from her bed in the middle of the night and carried her outside during a house fire. When she was twelve I took her to her first rock concert – U2 at the New Haven Coliseum in 1987.



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It’s 7:30 on Monday morning, November 25, 2013. I’m in a no-parking zone outside Dulles Airport, waiting for Steve Young. His red eye flight from San Francisco should have landed by now. He’s in town for the evening’s 49ers-Redskins game on ESPN, where he’s an analyst for the network’s “Monday Night Countdown” show. I’m his ride.



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(LOS ANGELES, CA) Jon Rosenthal was born in 1955 and raised in the San FernandoValley, amongst citrus orchards. As a boy he’d ride his bicycle to Van Nuys Airport, where he’d dream big while watching planes take off.



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This blog post is about my chance meeting with a guy named Tommy Flynn. But also be sure and check out my Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times about domestic violence in the NFL. You can read it here.



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Spetember 9, 2014

Yesterday the Baltimore Ravens cut running back Ray Rice and the NFL indefinitely suspended him after TMZ released a video of him knocking out his former fiancee who is now his wife with a punch to the face in an elevator inside an Atlantic City hotel.

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Jeff Benedict is a special features writer for Sports Illustrated and a bestselling author of twelve books, including  the New York Times bestseller The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football.  He is also a frequent public speaker and lecturer.  To book him contact George Greenfield at george@creativewell.com

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