The Zoey Blog: Building Sand Castles With Uncle Denard FINAL - COVER UNIVERSE EXPLORERS ORDER

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Building Sand Castles With Uncle Denard


What Johnny Danbury says about Denard Robinson is, in his own words, "like trying to draw a sound..." but it's worth the read.

"We get a walking emoticon, someone who looks at all times like he is riding a Slip ‘n Slide down the neck of a brontosaurus. Who has turned the implausible into pure farce. He is so immune to self-doubt that it is almost literally unbelievable. Where did you come from, man? He pats Manti Te’o on the helmet twice after being tackled by him and then on third-and-two runs straight into his chest for a first down. He is tiny and he is fragile but he will not run around you. He is not bound by the conventions of football. He politely acknowledges them and then he sets them on fire and builds castles with the ash." When do I get to have someone say something like that about me? Oh, right...never. You have to actually be a tsunami of continent shifting talent to have someone talk that way about you. The funny part is that even that's not entirely articulate enough to describe Denard Robinson. He genuinely is a one of a kind type of player and person. He's almost single handedly saved my sporting life.

This is the kind of thing that turns me back into a sports geek each and every time I turn my head away from the horror of it all. I'd read something somewhere that called us all losers, sports fans, it was something that acknowledged that the part we're overlooking in this whole raw sporting deal is the pseudo-masochistic nature of it. Only one team can win on any given night, and in the end all but one team goes home befuddled and emotionally abused. We're all losers at the very end. The idea took root in my head and as I applied it to my life it made greater sense. I was happiest when my teams were winning, and near miserable when they weren't. I was angry when the players I liked found themselves traded or tripped up by scandal and headlines. It ruined my day, weekend, year. Sports were making me miserable, but I loved them. I didn't want to be miserable anymore...and then there was Denard.

Like a baseball diamond cut into the middle of a cornfield in Iowa, there was Denard. After the Red Wings lose the Stanley Cup to the Penguins, and the Tigers lose a one game post-season play-in gutting to the Twins, and Tate Forcier gets dumber by the day, there is Denard. I'd build him an alter if it just didn't sound so weird. Denard brought me back from the abyss...of jumping off of that precarious ledge of fandom. And it was Denard that reminded me that I just want to have fun. I just want to win games and have fun on Saturdays, and at Tiger home games, and whenever the puck drops. I just want to be excited and happy to be in the presence of something cool. Denard urged me to be a sports fan again, after I was dangerously close to needing an intervention of sorts. He changed my perspective. Call me a fairweather fan if you like but you'd be wrong. I had season tickets to Michigan football when we were losing. We enjoyed season tickets with the Tigers when they were ripping our hearts out. We drove through snow and ice to watch Michigan basketball miss the tournament every year. We went to the NIT for God's sake, and drove to Kansas City. We watched when everyone else wasn't, and perhaps that was what did it...what sent me nearly over the edge? All I know is that it feels good to feel good again. Michigan is winning, despite being as flawed as they've ever been. The Tigers are playoff hunting with Yankees and Red Sox and Rays and Rangers jockeying for first victim status. The sun is shining and coolness has found the air. Denard looks like Denard and even Zoey knows a good thing when she sees it.

"Who's that guy," she asks.

"That's Denard," I answer. "He's fun."

"He's smiling," she responds eagerly.

"Yep," I quip, "Me too."

"Me too," she mimics, as we settle in to build sand castles with Denard every Saturday. It feels good to feel good.


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