Christmas tends to be a big deal for many… we stressed out over getting the perfect gift. But more often than not, we can’t remember what gift we got. But we do remember experiences.
Life is about your experiences. When you look back over your life, you remember experiences in your life, not the stuff in your life. Being a huge sports fan, a lot of my fondest memories deal with the sports experiences. I was at the final game, with my Dad, at Memorial Stadium. I was at the record tying and record breaking games, with my Dad, for Cal Ripken and the streak.
Even some of the smaller experiences I can remember revolve around sports. I remember sitting directly behind home plate, with my Dad, at Memorial Stadium, in the seats that belonged to Frank Robinson and his wife. I sat there as I got to wave at the Jumbotron camera. I sat there as Alan Mills made his major league debut for the Orioles. I remember watching the Orioles take on the Blue Jays in the 1989 “Why Not” season that ended in our 1-game playoff. I remember the press conference when Art Modell announced he was bringing the Browns to Baltimore as the Ravens. I remember watching the Ravens in the Super Bowl all by myself in my living room. When the game was over, I remember crying and going outside to scream with joy and honk my car horn.
Sports have meant a lot to me… and that love came from my family, who all have a love of sports. Since I moved away from Maryland 12 years ago, I have been able to still see a number of Orioles and Ravens games in person… in Baltimore, and at the opposing stadium.
I’ll add another experience to those memories Sunday. I now live in South Carolina and as soon as last Sunday’s Ravens game came to an end and we found out when and where the Ravens would be playing, I talked to my sister about the game. The next day, her husband texted me saying “I got tickets, get your butt here.” The thing is… he’s a Steelers fan. I hate his team, but he shares my passion for sports and knows what this game would mean to me. Then my parents called and said they would pay for the airfare. That was it… I was going!
Today, that experience went to another level. The greatest defensive player to ever play in the NFL announced that this would be his final season… which meant that (more than likely) Sunday would be his final home game.
After 17 seasons, 13 Pro Bowls, 7 All-Pro’s, 2 Defensive Player of the Year awards, and a Super Bowl MVP trophy, the only player in the history of the NFL to record over 40 sacks and 30 interceptions is calling it a career… and I get to be there.
I get to be there as Baltimore rocks M&T Bank Stadium like it never has before. I get to be there to see Ray Lewis come out of the tunnel and do his famous dance… one last time. I get to be there to see him fire up his teammates like no one else ever has (What Time Is It?!). I get to be there to see him lead his team on and off the field. And I will be there to stand, cheer, and cry as he leaves the field in Baltimore one last time.
I get to be there, with my Dad, to live another experience that I’ll never forget.
Life is about experiences and I have enjoyed many great ones.