Yes, it’s possible to be a Meditating Vegan Yogi who loves Football.

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I might not be your typical football fan given that I’m a meditating, vegan yogi who eats a ton of kale and hummus.

Football is a violent sport. Players get hurt. Even fans in the stands get hurt when things get rowdy. And yet, America loves football.

If you ask a football player why they play, they’ll tell you they play because it’s so much fun. They love the game and it makes them feel alive. They are aware of the risks involved, but that doesn’t stop most players from playing if given the chance.

I’m from a corner in Virginia that doesn’t have strong ties to any professional football team. Until 15 years ago, I couldn’t have told you the slightest thing about football except which teams had the snazziest uniforms. I didn’t know the difference between a first down, or an offensive pass interference penalty.

How I fell in love with football

That all changed when I ended up at a National Football League (NFL) game in 2004 with a guy I was dating at the time. I had no clue what was going on while watching that game, but my date’s team lost badly to the New England Patriots that day. I didn’t know much about the Patriots, but shortly thereafter (when I was no longer dating the aforementioned guy), I started watching their games and learning about them.

The prickly head coach who eats, breathes, and sleeps football with a single-minded focus you rarely find anywhere. The superstar quarterback who has become one of the greatest athletes of all time not because of his athletic gifts, but because of his hard work, drive, and fierce competitiveness. Not to mention, they’re just plain fun to watch.

It didn’t take long for this Virginian to become a New England bandwagon fan. Fifteen years later, the bandwagon is still rolling. Over the years I’ve ridden the emotional roller coaster as the team has won and lost Super Bowls, and players have come and gone, and been injured. During football season, my weekends revolve around game day. I cry when they win, I cry when they lose. Their successes inspire me to work harder at my own athletic endeavors, their losses leave me in mourning.

Say what you will about the Patriots; they have become, in the eyes of many, the evil empire of the NFL because of their dominance over the past 18 years.

Much like the Yankees, they’ve been winning for so long that if you’re not a Patriots fan, you’re probably sick of them. They are the much-maligned team with accusations of cheating scandals, deflated footballs, and vicious rumors. My opinion on unsubstantiated accusations? It’s lonely at the top.

Inspiration is all around

I fell in love with the Patriots, head coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady because I see a team and two leaders who are dedicated to hard work and achieving excellence.

I might not be your typical football fan given that I’m a meditating, vegan yogi who eats a ton of kale and hummus. My bookshelves are full of books by Thich Nhat Hanh and Deepak Chopra, alongside my #12 jersey that is always visible on a chair in my bedroom for good luck. These interests might seem to contradict, but I believe that inspiration can be found all around.

Nature, music, art, and athletes self-actualizing through sports inspire me to find my own greatness. Witnessing greatness in others reminds me that nearly anything is within reach if I work hard enough.

Watching 41-year-old Tom Brady play at the top of his game and lead his team to a ninth Super Bowl appearance is nothing if not awe-inspiring.

The stark beauty of the game

Regardless of which team you support, there is a stark yet dramatic beauty to the game of football. At first glance, it might seem that it is merely a game of brute force, but a closer look will reveal how much strategy, anticipation of the opponent, and lightening fast reactions are critical to a team’s success. Players and coaches spend weeks studying their opponent and preparing for every possible scenario in order to find a strategic advantage. Strength is a major component, but there is just as much intelligence and finesse needed to win the game.

Then there is the visual spectacle that is professional football. Enormous stadiums are dedicated to hosting games on perfectly manicured and painted fields amidst fireworks and special effects. Lights bounce off of shiny helmets and cleats, and yes, snazzy uniforms. The pageantry of the national anthem, the rush as your team runs out of the tunnel to take the field, and of course the touchdown celebrations. They don’t call it the “Greatest Show on Turf” for nothing.

Football brings people together

Like most sports, football brings people together. The Super Bowl is an annual excuse for a party regardless of whether you are a football fan or which teams are playing that year. But when you’re a fan of a team, you become a part of a community. I have yet to meet a New England fan who hasn’t wholeheartedly welcomed me as a fellow fan, despite not being a New Englander.

Win or lose, as a fan you experience it within a community of people who love the same team. For life-long fans, that fandom is a part of their identity that ties them to their sports community and city.

Super Bowl Sunday

This Sunday, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta will seat over 70,000 fans and host the biggest game of the year while millions around the world watch from their TVs. Dreams will come true and dreams will be dashed. Players and coaches’ careers may end after this game, while others might just be starting. For some players, this Sunday will be the greatest day of their lives. Others will remember it as their biggest lost opportunity. The rest of us will watch as the drama unfolds.

Maybe football isn’t your thing. If that’s the case, I hear you. But if you find yourself watching the game this Sunday, I dare you not to feel moved when the teams run out of their respective tunnels to take the field amid music, pyrotechnics, and screaming fans.

Everyone at the game, and watching around the world, will witness the emotion, the tears, the elation, and the heartbreak that will take place on the field.

Heroes will be crowned, and history will be made as the entire spectrum of human potential and emotion unfolds on Super Bowl Sunday.

May the best team win.

~

author: Jessica Ruff

Image: Author's own

Editor: Roslyn Walker

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Guy Scholz Feb 5, 2019 7:15pm

loved it!!!!! the way you articulated the whole article resonates with me – a part-time sports writer (that does get a paycheck 🙂 )….one of my favorite dayz ever was yankee stadium in the afternoon and the NY ballet at night…inspired over the moon….the pats aren’t my favorite football team—-that honor is bestowed on the SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS in the CFL (uni’s you would luv)……but the patriots are my favorite team to observe in the ways you described….’something’ told me in 2002 to keep my eye on them….same thing happened when the ’49ers’ started their dynasty….good article as i also like to be inspired in a myriad of ways….Curling maybe the most of the sports genre’s (being a canadian may answer that question—the most zen-like sport on the planet…)…enjoyed and was inspired by your article….keep writing….cheers

    Jessica Ruff Feb 6, 2019 5:02am

    Thank you so much, I really appreciate your kind words! I’m so glad you can relate to my thoughts on sports:)

stephanieanne53 Feb 4, 2019 2:52pm

This article moved me for a couple of reasons. That you so eloquently talk about how much more there is to the game than just brute force. Strategy, a bond and connection between teammates, coaches and owner of the team, intelligence and sharpness. You blew up the stereotype of what people are that love the game.
Nicely done Jess. I look forward to more of your writings. Perhaps a book??

    Jessica Ruff Feb 4, 2019 3:29pm

    Thank you so much for your kind words and appreciation, I’m glad you enjoyed my take on football:) There is indeed so much more to the game than what appears on the surface. The way the game brings so many people together in a variety of ways is astonishing.

Melissa Shepard Feb 4, 2019 2:37pm

I am also a yogi football fan, also a fan and season ticketholder of the Patriots, and have always felt a bit “odd” being so passionate about two seemingly opposing activities. I was at the Superbowl this year as well as the last two and there’s nothing like that experience! I’ll keep going as long as the Pats make it there!

    Jessica Ruff Feb 4, 2019 3:22pm

    Melissa, I’m so glad to hear you can relate! This warms my heart:) And I am deeply envious that you have season tickets and have been to the past three Super Bowls. Wow! Go Pats! Thanks so much for commenting:)

Jennifer Hayes Feb 4, 2019 6:01am

This is me too! Thank you for sharing, Jessica. Love my Patriots ?

    Jennifer Hayes Feb 4, 2019 6:03am

    That ? Was supposed to be a 🙂
    This site doesn’t support emojis I guess! Anyways, football is a great American pastime, one that we all can enjoy whether or not our team is in the running!

      Jessica Ruff Feb 4, 2019 11:21am

      Thank you so much, Jennifer! I’m glad you can relate and enjoy the game! Enjoy the Super Bowl afterglow:)

Ryon Lane Feb 3, 2019 3:27pm

I love this article Jessica – and especially the focus of community you identify. I value deeply the community of friends I still share after multiple decades of shared love for our team(s).

I must admit however that I’m just adamantly opposed to anyone being celebrated who has consciously made choices to cheat, lie or obtain personal gains at the expense of others – or turned a blind eye to it. I’m talking about Tom Brady and the inflation status of game day balls in “Deflategate,” and I’m talking about a history of it with Belichick, the Patriots and “Spygate.”

And yes, you may believe that Tom Brady is innocent of the “Deflategate” scandal, but the evidence I’ve seen shows he was not, and I can tell you for certain that NFL Commissioner Godell would not have suspended Brady for four games (that’s it?) if he also felt Tom was innocent of any wrongdoing. Even our federal courts agreed, rejecting Brady’s claim for relief.

I have a thing for college football, but games are games, and are trivial and meant for fun and enjoyment…except for when players or coaches break the rules or harm others for personal gain, which is where I draw the line.

Assuming today’s game is 100% honestly fought, I wish your team the best.

Sincerely,
Ryon

    Jessica Ruff Feb 4, 2019 11:33am

    Hi Ryon, Thank you for taking the time to respond to my article. I suspected that my love of the Patriots would strike a nerve with folks who aren’t fans of the team. 🙂

    The team has indeed had some controversy in the past. With regards to “Deflategate,” the other side of the argument is that there was never any hard evidence to convict Brady of any wrongdoing. The punishment handed down by Roger Goddell was a result of Brady’s unwillingness to turn over his cell phone as this was seen as lack of cooperation. The courts upheld the decision not because they thought Brady was guilty of anything but because the NFL Player’s Union gives the NFL Commissioner the power to levy punishment as he/she sees fit. Regardless, Brady was already found guilty in the court of public opinion and media circus.

    I’m glad you enjoy college football, enjoy next season!

Bill.brundage Feb 3, 2019 1:35pm

Wow, great article and I love how you point out that the NFL isn’t all a bunch of meat-heads smashing into one another but really is a game of strategy and intelligence. Love it!

    Jessica Ruff Feb 3, 2019 1:36pm

    Thanks so much! There is indeed so much more to the game:)

marc.mcaleavey Feb 3, 2019 9:39am

Totally possible to be a vegan, mindful, peaceful fan of football….but also a Patriots fan? Now that’s a stretch! ???

For real though, I like football. I can’t support the NFL anymore. #racism #nationalismsucks #NFLsupportswar

    marc.mcaleavey Feb 3, 2019 9:43am

    One more thing…those “?’s” in my first response were supposed to be laughing emojis. My comment about the Patriots is intended to be playful. I’m from Indianapolis, if that explains anything. Big love and enjoy the game!

      Jessica Ruff Feb 3, 2019 11:45am

      Thank you for your comments, Marc! I agree with you that the NFL has its issues–issues that I hope will improve so that players are treated fairly and kept as safe as possible.

      As far as the Patriots go, well, if you don’t love them, you most likely detest them. I get it! 🙂

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Jessica Ruff

Jessica Ruff has always been an old soul with a deep love of learning and the written word. With degrees in psychology, business, and marketing, she is a voracious reader and writer, as well as the owner of entirely too many books. Jessica is a devoted yogi, yoga teacher, and distance runner. She has a passion for wellness, vegan cooking and baking, and anything chocolate. An avid traveler, she is never happier than when flying somewhere new, but loves coming home to her beloved corgi Finlee.