Football has been king in Oklahoma for a very long time

I think I saw my first Dallas Cowboy football game in 1970. My Dad was a big fan and I sat down in the living room (he was in the recliner) to see what was so interesting about this game.

I was just a kid but I started to pick up on what was going on.

Then the Dallas defense “blitzed” and sacked the opposing quarterback. Wow. That was pretty cool. I watched the rest of the game.

I played football for about one week in the sixth grade. I went out for the team but I got crossways with the coach’s son and quit after a few days. My Dad had two rules – don’t play on a football team and don’t ride motorcycles. I abided by those wise rules.

I went to Nathan Hale High School back in the early 1970s and football was king. Quarterback Brent Blackman and wideout Tommy Stremme helped the Rangers be ranked the top team in the state in the highest classification. The “Game of the Century” between No. 1 Washington and No. 2 Hale was played my sophomore year at Skelly Stadium on the TU campus. It was sleeting during that  playoff game and we got beat pretty good.

Hale coach Lee Snider was my driver’s ed teacher. He was pretty intense. After that season, Blackman was recruited by Oklahoma State and Snider was hired as freshman coach at OSU.

We had some pretty exciting pep rallies and our games were terrific (even though Hale never had its own stadium).

I went to Tulsa Junior College (now Tulsa Community College) my freshman year and then I transferred to Oklahoma for my final three. I was a journalism major and I was a sportswriter for the Oklahoma Daily, the student newspaper.

Barry Switzer had just been named coach during my sophomore year. In three years, we tied one game, lost only one game and won two national championships.

My destiny as a football fan was sealed.

My first job out of college was as a sportswriter for the Bartlesville Examiner Enterprise. I switched to writing news at my next job because I loved sports so much, I would rather watch as a fan than as a reporter.

Thirty years ago, when I worked for a big daily paper, I moonlighted by covering high school football games in places like Twin Oaks, Hominy and Morris. It was a lot of fun to drive to towns like Stroud and Catoosa and cover high school football – the main attraction for those small towns for the whole week. (Catoosa was a lot smaller back then).

I write a lot of sports for the Tulsa Beacon. I have covered football games with OU, OSU and Tulsa – including bowls games for Tulsa and Oklahoma.

Each week, two of my brothers, one nephew and Tulsa Beacon sports columnist Jeff Brucculeri predict upcoming college football game winners. We get pretty competitive and it takes a big of research to know what team has the best chance to win.

I can’t tell you how many times a subscriber has told me that he got a kick out of the pithy comments we add each week to the picks.

I fell out of love with the Dallas Cowboys until last year, when they had DeMarco Murray, who led the league in rushing, and Dez Bryant, the best wide receiver in the NFL.

I also started following the St. Louis Rams because they drafted former Oklahoma Heisman winner Sam Bradford. Bradford was traded to Philadelphia – a big rival of Dallas – and Murray signed a free-agent contract with the Eagles. So, I am torn as to who to root for when Dallas plays Philly.

I enjoy following college players from TU, OSU and OU who go to the pros. I have been following the progress of OU alum Landry Jones in his third year with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jones has been harshly criticized but this preseason he has come on strong and it looks like his career may take off even though he has no chance to unseat Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh quarterback who has won two Super Bowls.

By the way, as this week, guess who is leading the NFL in passing yardage? Landry Jones with 577 yards.

Also, the Buffalo Bills have named Tyrod Taylor their starting quarterback. Taylor was a sixth-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens and pretty much sat on the bench for four years behind Joe Flacco until his rookie contract expired. Then he signed with Buffalo. I see the same pattern for Landry Jones, who is in his third season with the Steelers.

Twenty years ago, I used to spend too much time watching college and pro football. Now, with a game on almost every night, I haveto  dial back on watching too many games. I like to watch OU, TU and OSU and Dallas and Pittsburgh. I won’t watch the Rams anymore with Bradford gone and I will probably watch some Eagle games to see him and Murray.

I have not been to a Hale game or any other high school game in quite awhile. When my son played in the Memorial High School band, I went to a few games but that was 10 years ago. (By the way, I told my kids not to play football or ride motorcycles and they listened).

It’s fall. Football is here. Everyone is undefeated. It’s great to be alive in Oklahoma.