A football fan’s dream: Headed to Houston to help cover Super Bowl 51

falconsBY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene

If you watch “This is Us,” then you remember the episode when Kate explains to boyfriend Toby that her love of football was cultivated by her dad. Now that he’s deceased, she prefers to watch their team – the Pittsburgh Steelers – play on TV every week with only her father’s ashes as company.

It’s a little bit like that for me, too.

Growing up in South Florida, I fell in love as a pre-teen with the Dan Marino-led Miami Dolphins. Watching the game every week with my dad became a ritual – my mother and older sister couldn’t care less about football and would usually go shopping while he and I watched (or listened on the radio) the magic of the Marks Brothers (Duper and Clayton) and cheered the (usual) genius of Don Shula.

My dad has been gone nearly 20 years, but I still watch the Miami Dolphins play every football Sunday at a local sports bar (shout out to my buddies at The Bird for always having the TV tuned to the right channel for me).

My husband joins me a couple of times throughout the season, but understands that, like Kate, I’d rather watch alone so I can clap like a lunatic when Jay Ajayi weaves through defenders for a touchdown or slam my fist on the table and curse when the O-line yet again crumbles at Ryan Tannehill’s feet — and I don’t have to contain either emotion because of the inevitable embarrassment of looking like a fool in front of one’s spouse.

I’ve also taken to shaking my head in disgust and muttering nonsensical things about stupid draft picks and stupid plays, just as my dad did all those years ago.

But aside from being a diehard Miami Dolphins fan — which, naturally, means I loathe the Patriots —  I’m also an obsessive pro football fan in general.

September through December means intense involvement in at least three fantasy football leagues; weekend getaways are scheduled around important games as much as possible; we’re already contemplating a trip to London this fall to combine an anniversary celebration with a Dolphins game at Wembley Stadium.

The work of a deserving MVP. Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

The work of a deserving MVP. Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Stuff like that.

So why am I, the music writer, telling you all of this?

Because this week, I’ll be in Houston as part of the AJC team covering the Atlanta Falcons’ awesome Super Bowl run. As much as I’d like to write about Mohamed Sanu and Alex Mack, those stories will be handled by our ace crop of sports writers, so make sure to check out their fine work on our sports pages.

Rather, I, along with my entertainment colleague Jennifer Brett, will keep you informed throughout the week – and through the Super Bowl – about all of the other stuff going on… the concerts and the celebrities and the events that start way too late even for someone who goes to bed at 3 a.m.

I’ll also be on with my pal Kaedy Kiely at The River (97.1 FM) every day this week – starting Tuesday – to talk prop bets (another Ruggieri specialty) and music. Kaedy’s show airs from 3-7 p.m.

So stay tuned this week as we do our best to bring you as much color and information as possible from the site of Super Bowl 51.

Rise up, Atlanta. It’s time.

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