By Peter Schwartz
When a sports fan thinks about opening day, usually baseball comes to mind. There’s always a magical feeling about it as stadiums are usually packed even in cities where expectations are not high.
But for me, it’s a week like this past one that holds a special place in my heart.
That’s because it’s now football season!
My connection to football has three very strong layers that will always set the beginning of this season apart from start of others. Football has played an important role in my life as a fan and from a professional standpoint. Football has taken me to stadiums all over the country including the biggest game of them all.
I’ve been lucky enough to go to eight Super Bowls.
But first things first. My love of football started when I was a kid.
Even though my father was a Giants fan, I grew up a huge Jets fan because the first football game I ever attended was a Jets/Bills game in 1977 at Shea Stadium (they lost…story of my life) and I have bled green ever since.
My dad and I made many trips to Shea for Jets games and to Giants Stadium for Giants games and then our car seemed to drive itself to the Meadowlands once the Jets moved there in 1984. When I got older I had Jets season tickets for eleven years but gave them up once I started covering them.
As the years went by, I knew I wanted to get into sports broadcasting but my dream job was to be a football play by play announcer. That dream came true in 2001 when I was named the voice of the XFL’s NY/NJ Hitmen. That league lasted just one season but it was an amazing experience.
2002 was a huge football year for me as well. I became the radio announcer for the Arena Football League’s New York Dragons, a job that I would have seven seasons. The AFL went on a one year hiatus after the 2008 season, but the Dragons never returned to the league.
Later in 2002, I became the Jets beat reporter for a radio station that I used to work for. It was kind of surreal to cover a team that I grew up rooting for but it was a lot of fun. I would later spend three years as the Jets beat reporter for WFAN Radio, CBS Sports Radio’s New York affiliate.
As far as my family is concerned, the sign hanging in our den says it all….
Those words couldn’t be any truer.
My wife was a huge football fan long before I met her. She grew up a huge Jets fan as well and now we have two boys who cheer on Gang Green. My nine year old Bradley is more of the football enthusiast than my five year old Jared. Bradley was around football from the time he was born because I schlepped him to Dragons practice every day. He went from sitting in a baby carrier to running around with the players after practice. He is now in his sixth year of playing pee-wee football. Jared cheers on his brother, watches games with us on television, but would rather play soccer.
Football….Futbol…hey as long as it’s something that generates family time!
There’s no question that we are a football family. We all go to Bradley’s practices and games each week. During the summer, we went to see some Jets practices at Training Camp together and. This season, Sheryl, Bradley, and I will go to a couple of games but Jared isn’t quite ready for that so he’ll hang out with Grandma and Grandpa!
From a professional standpoint, football is still a very big part of my life. I don’t cover the Jets anymore, but working at CBS Sports Radio keeps me in tune with everything going on in the NFL and College Football. And this week, I begin a new gig calling play by play on television for Long Island high school football games.
And so a new football season kicked off this past week. In my life, it’s both business and pleasure. Football has been a huge part of my life but for the last 12 years it’s been even more special.
It’s turned my family into a football family!