My Dad has always had Mondays off. In the summer time he'd take my sister and I to the movies, or fishing in the Uvas Valley. When August came the 49ers would start training camp at San Jose State.
Back then training camp was a low key thing. Not like today with 20,000 people buying tickets to watch. Back then it was 75-100 guys and their kids. They would back their cars and trucks up to the chain link fence around the practice field, flip down the tail gate and open a cooler of beer. Two - a -days were my favorite. We'd go in the morning, and then at the lunch break Dad would take us to the A&W for a 'Teen Burger'. I felt so grown up ordering a teen burger. After lunch we'd go back and watch the second practice.
Those 49er teams were pretty bad. I remember the hope and then disappointment as Jim Plunkett and O.J. Simpson came to town. For my Dad the agony of being a 49er fan went back to the 1950's. His sisters had moved him from rural New Mexico so he could go to high school at Lincoln High in San Francisco. Every Sunday we'd watch the games till the bitter end. It never mattered if the Raider game had started and they were trying to clinch another playoff birth. We'd watch to the final of the 49er game and another 5-9 season.
I remember calling my Dad at work in 1979 to talk about James Owens, the 49ers first pick in that draft. I couldn't remember the name of the Quarterback they'd taken in the 3rd round, but I remember telling my Dad, "He could be ok." He was Joe Montana.
I was in high school in 1982. I watch the Super Bowl game with my Dad that year. Through the entire second half of the game he didn't say a word. I think he was in shock. He couldn't believe it was really happening. Now it's easy to think of the 49ers and five Super Bowl wins and think it was easy being a 49er fan, but for my Dad it had been 30 years of giving your heart to a loosing team. When Dwight Clark picked up the onside kick with 20 second left, Dad still couldn't say a word.
In 2008 Stef and I were headed back from New Orleans. At Louis Armstrong Airport I bought a New Orleans Saints shirt. If the Saints are playing when we are in town, we go to the game, but she wondered why I'd bought it. I told her that I was going to be a Saints fan until the 49ers fired their idiot coach (You Tube him and see if you can find the clip where he can't add to 12 properly). When we got back to San Jose that night I put ESPN on the TV in bed and the headline was "49ers fire Nolan, name Singletary interim coach". I'd been a Saints fan for 9 hours.
The 49ers will always be first in my heart, but 'dem Saints' are a close second. I hope this Sunday, I can't say a word through the whole second half.