Civil War, Family Style


Good Evening:

My father has been a fan of the New York Giants since the 1950s. I’ve been a fan of the San Francisco 49ers since I moved to my city 8 days before the Red & Gold won their first Super Bowl. You know what that means–civil war, family style.

Way back in the 1980s, the 49ers and Giants frequently engaged in brutal low-scoring defensive masterpieces on Monday Night Football. During the 1988 defensive masterpiece, the Giants finally cracked the Niner defense and scored a touchdown to take a 17-13 lead with less than two minutes to go. During commercials, I received a phone call from Dad. “This is the Giants’ year, they are going back to the Super Bowl, San Francisco fought a good game, but they just can’t beat the Giants this year,” et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I played the role of the good sport in defeat (perhaps my greatest acting job ever, and this was 8 years before I even discovered acting), agreed with everything Dad said, but then the commercials ended and we hung up so we could both watch the (for me, bitter) end.

The second I sat down, on 4th and 10 from the 22, Joe Montana threw a 78 touchdown pass to Jerry Rice. And San Francisco won 20-17.

And the phone rang. I thought, “That can’t be Dad.” And it wasn’t.

It was Mom.

But I could hear Dad in the background, shouting, “I don’t want to talk to him! I don’t want to talk to him! I don’t want to talk to him!”

But he eventually did, and I played the role of the good sport in victory (no wait, perhaps that was my greatest acting job ever). Since then, whenever the Niners and Giants play, the Bair whose team loses has to call the winner and take the punishment. There’ve been a few exceptions. After that berserk 39-38 playoff win, I called Dad and told him the refs robbed the Giants–which even the NFL admits was the truth. Also, during a NY-SF regular season game at Candlestick several years ago, I bought Dad tickets for his birthday. The Giants won 24-6 (Brandon Jacobs: 5 carries, 3 yards, 2 touchdowns), and I didn’t need to call him; he was sitting next to me.

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–One of the two teams did win the Super Bowl that season: San Francisco beat the Cincinnati Bengals for the second time with the aid of The Drive II.

PPS–Dad was very gracious when I called today, legitimately gracious; he prefers to see his team win by virtue of their inherent superiority rather than watch their opponents blunder and lose.


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