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On Football, Fatherhood, and Family


My father is not a lawyer. Unless you count people pretending to be lawyers on "Law and Order" or "The People's Court," he has never used a lawyer in his entire life. Nonetheless, his influence on my practice of law is immense.

I am fairly confident that my father never took a sick day his entire working career. That is not to say he was never ill -- he just simply would not miss work. Perhaps with contagious germs this is not the most advisable, but nonetheless it was his work ethic. He had a job to do, and he was going to do it. I try to be the same.

My father also reads his Bible every day. He always has. I can remember waking up at hours that feDarian Stanford passes along to his son many of the qualities he got from his father. lt early to me as a child only to find my father sitting in his chair in the den with his weathered and cracked black leather Bible open. I could not help but learn various scriptures and passages, and to this day allusions to those passages and stories pepper my legal briefing, probably more than they should. But I can't help it -- it has become part of who I am.

One of my favorite things about my father is one of his passions, which later became one of my own: college football. To this day, there are few things I would rather do than watch a game with my dad. (And in case you are wondering, Notre Dame and Oklahoma are the teams that matter.)

Now with my own son, I find myself repeating so many of the same things my dad said to me:
"If you touch it, you should catch it."
"If you can't move the football two inches [on a fourth and inches], then you don't deserve to win."
"Quit showboating and play the game."
"Don't run east-west, run north-south."
"No arm tackling; wrap him up, wrap him up."

There are countless more, but you get the idea. And that helps illustrates my point:

Some things are passed down from generation to generation because we voluntarily make sure to do so. Others are passed down involuntarily, simply because they've become ingrained into who we are, and we couldn't help it even if we wanted.

It is these things, the involuntary things, that I find so special, especially on Father's Day. When I catch myself repeating things to my own son, I can't help but smile and think that my father probably took them from my grandfather, and one day my son will pass them along to his own.

No matter how different we are, from one generation to the next, some things remain the same.

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