Thanksgiving, 1993

It had been snowing for hours. I listened with rapt attention to the radio in my mother’s car. I was on my way to my father’s house; after spending most of the afternoon with my step-grandparents, I had finished with the dining portion of Thanksgiving and ready to settle into the “lazy, doing nothing” portion.

Miami vs. Dallas, Thanksgiving 1993Though I’ve never considered football to be my favorite sport, on this day – at this time, three and a half quarters into the evening’s game – it was the only thing on my mind.

The game: Miami vs. Dallas, November 25, 1993.

A snow covered field. Drifting in through the stadium roof’s iconic rectangle hole, the snow added a new dimension to the game. Mistakes were made, they might say, and it was evident by the abysmal 14-13 score.

The Dolphins – an improbable 8-2, despite the loss of Dan Marino in the fifth game of the season – trailed, but this was no surprise. They were on the road, against the Cowboys (who, unknown to everyone, would go on to win the Super Bowl). The Cowboys, at 7-3, were considered a far superior team, despite the record.

And at this point, the game was nearly wrapped up. Pete Stoyanovich’s kick had just been blocked, the ball landing close to the end zone. Dead ball. Three seconds to go. Cowboys ready to celebrate.

Enter Leon Lett.

I was returning home to an empty house, my father still at Thanksgiving festivities across town. On the radio, I had heard the set-up, the snap, the kick, the block. And, as I got out of my mom’s car, I heard a hold up. The Cowboys had fucked up. And the Dolphins may have another chance.

I ran to the front door, hastily waving goodbye to my mother. I ran in the house, switched the television on, and watched, mouth agape, as they replayed Leon Lett’s disastrous error, his snow-driven slide into the football allowing the Dolphins to get the ball back for a second chance, Stoyanovich wisely using the confusion to clear off a path to the football, a stunned Dallas crowd awaiting what could only be bad news.

Finally, a second set-up. A second snap. A second kick.

But this time, no block. Dolphins win, 16-14.

I broke free from the house. Running down the street, kicking up snow, ignoring the cold against my bare arms, I ran down the street. Cheering. Shouting. SHOUTING AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS to no one in particular. My friend Steve, who happened to be walking down the block for a pre-planned sleepover, looked on as I went ballistic with joy.

The Dolphins would proceed to lose every game from there on out, while the Cowboys did the opposite, winning every game through the Super Bowl.

Later that night, after my father came home, Steve and I attempted to quell my football buzz by walking to Kmart in the middle of a mild snowstorm. That it was open was a surprise, but I barely noticed. My mind still ran wild with the possibilities.

It was my first taste of a meaningful comeback, and it came equipped with an elation that no amount of snow could cool off.

This was lovingly handwritten on November 26th, 2009