As I’ve mentioned before, despite growing up in San Francisco, I missed the golden era of 49ers’ football. I still lived in North Carolina when they won the ’81 Super Bowl. (Super Bowl years are usually in reference to the year the season was played, not the year in which the Super Bowl is played which, yes, is totally confusing.) And besides that, I was raised by a mother who thought football was barbaric.
Despite my mother's disdain for the sport, the ’84 championship is actually my very first football memory and it's all because of her. The 49ers were facing off against the Miami Dolphins and my mother, never one to miss an opportunity for some family bonding, turned the event into an arts and crafts session.
We pulled the “D” Encyclopedia off of the shelf and looked up a picture of a dolphin. Someone then carefully drew a huge outline of a dolphin on a large white sheet. My brother and I used smelly markers to color the dolphin in blue and then, for the final touch, drew a red circle around it with a slash through the middle.
My mother let us hang it out of the window of our fancy Pacific Heights home. I liked where this was going.
We went to a Super Bowl party that year since our house was television-free and I remember my mother driving us around Union Street after the 49ers won, my face pressed against the window of her Cadillac, watching as revelers spilled out of the bars and crowded the sidewalks, screaming and yelling. People in cars honked their horns in victory. Someone stood on the roof of a car that was stopped at an intersection. .
The next two Super Bowls somehow went by almost completely unnoticed by me. Back-to-back wins in ’88 and ’89. It was until the 49ers went to the Super Bowl again during the '94 season that I started paying attention, but even then, I didn’t really get it. That win, however, did convince me to start paying more attention. Within a year or two, I was hooked.
So yes, the 49ers have won five Super Bowls, but since I’ve become a die-hard fan, the kind of fan who lives for her team, who doesn’t travel during the fall for fear of missing a game, who gets more excited for opening day than Christmas or my birthday, since then: none.
Listen, there’s a lot more football to be played before ANY team goes to the Super Bowl. We have the Divisional Round this weekend (that’s right: another weekend with football all day Saturday and Sunday) and then the Conference Championship next weekend (Sunday only). Whichever NFC and AFC teams win that round will face off against each other in the Super Bowl.
But in order to play next weekend, the 49ers have to win this weekend. Win or go home.
Which is why I’m asking, if you root for one team tomorrow, to please make it the San Francisco 49ers.
And just in case you need a few more reasons, well, here you go:
1. When I moved to North Carolina for graduate school, one of the very first things I did was find a bar that would agree to play the 49ers games. Every Sunday for three years, I went to that bar by myself and sat in front of the smallest TV they had. They wouldn’t play it on any of the big TVs because the Niners weren’t very good. The bar was filled with cigarette smoke and salty old Southern men who thought I was there to be hit on. After I finally proved my fandom, the bartenders made a “No talking to Daisy rule.” I’d sit there quietly, cheering on my boys, drinking Bud Lights in front of a TV with no sound. I did this when the Niners went 7-9. I did this when the Niners went 2-14. I did this when the Niners went 4-12. The only time I ever left a game early was in 2003 when we played the Minnesota Vikings. We were behind 35-0 and I left with a few minutes left in the fourth quarter. The 49ers scored a touchdown. I never left early again.
2. When I moved back to San Francisco, one of the first things I did was buy 49ers season tickets. For the last five years, I’ve attended every single game. I always bring a friend. I’ve never asked anyone to reimburse me for the cost of their ticket. I love that I can give my friends that gift.
3. No matter what, I always believe.
And because it’s not just (or even really) about me, but about my boys, a few more reasons:
4. The 49ers face off against the New Orleans Saints tomorrow. The Saints are heavily favored and everyone in the media thinks there’s no way the Niners can beat them. Everyone prefers the Saints' high-powered offense over the 49ers' dominant defense. Wouldn't it be fun to prove everyone wrong?
5. The Saints won the 2009 Super Bowl. That was basically, like, yesterday.
6. The 49ers have eight players with playoff experience and only two who’ve won Super Bowl rings. The Saints have 39 guys who’d been to the playoffs before this year and 27 of those have Super Bowl rings.
7. The 49ers won 13 games this season with a rookie head coach. A rookie head coach who turned a losing team into a playoff team. A rookie head coach who made everyone believe.
9. The 49ers have no ego, no super stars. There’s no Tom Brady. Or Aaron Rodgers. Or Tim Tebow. Or Drew Brees. They just work hard and believe in each other. They have heart. Simple as that.
10. And because I've given the 49ers my heart, if they lose tomorrow, it will break. Literally. It will be days before I smile, weeks before I laugh. And who knows how long it will be before I get out of bed. This team is everything to me. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I give them everything I have. I believe in them. They deserve this. And I want to see them go all the way.
Listen, if you’re from New Orleans, I get it. You’re going to root for the Saints. But if you aren’t sure whom to root for, or if you don’t have a team, then why not root for the 49ers?
After all, you love xoJane, which let's be honest, means you can't resist a good underdog.
GO NINERS! BEAT THE SAINTS!
(If you want more information about the game that isn't quite so emotionally driven, checkout my 49ers preview on SFist.com. It gets more into the X's and O's of things.)