Before every game, hulking football defensive end Dave Tollefson calls his mother. Then she curses at him for awhile before he heads off to the field.
So reports Mark Viera in The New York Times today, in a story that makes this not-so-much-a-football-fan want to go root for the Giants.
Here's how Viera describes the ritual phone call, which has taken on rabbit-foot-like qualities for the entire team:
I'm not going to talk to him like a mom and say, 'Be careful and don't hurt anybody,' " his mother, Debi Crocker, said in a recent telephone interview. "That's not going to get him pumped up. I would say it's basically potty-mouth, smash-mouth-football-type talk.
Two parenting thoughts:
First, the grown man still needs his mother. That hits just the right spot with me at just the right moment, as my youngest gets ready to head for college. From the time I learned I was having two boys, friends and strangers have seen fit to warn me that I would lose them once they were adults. "A son is a son 'til he takes a wife, but a daughter's a daughter for the rest of her life," they chirpped.
Well, Tollefson is married.
Second, his mother has found the right words. And they sure don't sound like ones you would find in any parenting book. So often as a parent I feel the weight of a moment and the need to say the perfect thing. I run through a mental list of possibilities, parse the life lessons implied in each, and then usually blurt out the first thing that came to my head. More often than not it sounds all wrong.
And yet my kids are turning out pretty much alright.
So, it would seem, is Dave Tollefson.