Unless you are a degenerate gambler (which I mean in the nicest possible way if you fall in to this category), you know someone playing in the game, or are somehow employed by the NFL or some other related organization, tonight’s Pro Bowl does not count as real football. It definitely does not satisfy any of the jonesing you are having right now for actual football. As much as I don’t like the 2 weeks between the conference championships and the Super Bowl, and as much as I despise the Pro Bowl and the fact that the NFL has tried to make it more appealing by moving it to the previously cursed week before the Super Bowl, the one benefit is that at least now our last taste of pro football is not the Pro Bowl. It is the Super Bowl.
During my childhood and teenage years, this was also a meaningless statement. Because unless your favorite team was playing (and winning) in the Super Bowl, the games were typically one-sided blowouts with little to no drama. However, in the past handful of years, the game has been in the balance near the end and hopefully this year will be the same as well.
Despite that excellent (albeit brief) lesson on the history of the Super Bowl, we are still left on this Sunday without any meaningful football. What is a football fanatic to do? I thought that same thing today as I was wandering around my parents’ house today. And then, like a brown-and-white bolt of lightning out of the sky, the answer hit me. At the top of the stairs is a collection of pictures that most people have not seen. They are football related and they definitely need to be shared with the world (or at least the small (but growing!) sliver of the world that reads this fine blog.)
The football exploits of the McKenna Boys (trademark pending) has not been exulted to nearly the degree that it should be. Because, to be honest, we were pretty awesome. You may think this comes from me being biased, since I technically am one of the aforementioned ‘McKenna Boys’ (trademark pending). But no, we really were awesome. It all started when we were little, playing pretend football in the backyard. We would run a play were there three of us would all hold the ball to simultaneously score the game-winning touchdown. Things only got better from there. And I have the pictures and stories to prove it.
Only McKenna to score a touchdown, including one pass that was somehow was thrown end over end to him. Hence the nickname that he just made up for himself “TD”. (Historical note: Mike’s actual nicknames included “Goldie” because there were 2 (unrelated) McKenna’s on the team and he was the one with blond hair, and “Mentos” which was a carryover from the baseball team because he seemed to look like a guy in one of the cheesy Mentos commercials of the mid 90’s.)(There has been no confirmation nor denial of whether he was actually in those commercials.) Mike’s bigger contribution to the team was going over the middle on a pass route and the quarterback overthrowing him just enough so that he would stretch out and then get blasted by someone on the opposing defense. Some of the teammates near Mike’s locker in the locker room felt that this was in fact a secret play in the playbook that the coaches employed whenever the crowd was getting bored. He also once almost broke Donovan McNabb’s hand because he was so slow snapping the ball as the center. He wasn’t allowed to practice with the first team anymore that year.
Was a starting offensive guard on a State Championship winning team. More importantly, during the state championship game, not only was the importance of his contributions specifically noted by the color commentator, but he was also referred to as “Big” Matt McKenna. (Historical note: This has never been his actual nickname. But it was cool when we heard it on TV. Also, a few years later this quote was made much funnier when in the movie “Any Given Sunday”, one of the very large offensive guards had McKenna on the back of his jersey. In and of itself, that is not funny. But when the on-screen McKenna has an extremely unnecessary, full frontal nudity locker room scene, hilarity ensues and the nickname gets taken to another level.) Matt is also the family leader in points because he served as kicker for awhile when he was a senior. Old-school to the core, he was a straight-on kicker and the coaches found a special flat-toed shoe for him to use. (The shoe was nicknamed “Jenny” after the holder’s girlfriend.)
Was on the same State Championship team with Matt. Is the only McKenna to ever take snaps at quarterback. Despite the glory involved with being “the funky QB”, Brian felt his chosen area of glory was on the offensive line where he spend the majority of his career. He excelled at center in his senior year. He was so dominant that he was named to the All-Area team by one of the newspapers, despite missing a game with a bruised hand. Not only that, but out of all of our above pictures, his is definitely the best.
While none of us made a career out of football, we all had a great time and have some pretty good stories. I am sure that I missed one or two, so if any of the McKenna Boys (trademark pending) (or our legions of supporters) have other stories to add, feel free to comment. In the end, a trip down memory lane beats the Pro Bowl any day!