Jan 6, 2011

A Tale of Three Legends: An NFL Star, an Ox, and the Father Who Brought Them Together

So, something compelled you to stop by Brent and I’s little cove of the interweb, eh? Well, in all likelihood, that was a serious mistake, but you’re here….Now what’s with the name? Is this a football blog? Are we just serious fans of the man who played a contributing role in the birth of John Lynch? I’ll go ahead and end the suspense right now by simply saying “no.” To understand this blog’s name and purpose, I’m using the word “purpose” quite liberally, I need to tell you the story of the three individuals responsible for this blog’s name.

The first, and undoubtedly least important, member of the trio is former NFL player John Lynch. According to Wikipedia, Lynch played 14 seasons in the NFL. During his career, he reached the Pro Bowl on 9 separate occasions. He won a Super Bowl in 2002 while playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and also has the prestigious title of being ranked #10 on the NFL Network’s countdown of the “Top 10 Most Feared Tacklers in NFL History.” I think it’s pretty obvious that were we to ask John Lynch which of his accomplishments he’s most proud of, he would not hesitate to say it was the distinction handed down by the NFL Network. If you’d like to read more about his career, you may do so here:

Like many humans, John Lynch has both a mother and father. We know this because he was born, and there is no apparent reference to him in the Bible as being the result of a second Immaculate Conception. While I’m sure his mother is a lovely person, she is unfortunately a silent partner in our story today. Instead, we focus on his father.

Having done extensive research, it appears that the word “dad” likely derives its origin from the sounds babies make such as “Da-da” or “Ta-ta.” Parent figures, and frequently fathers, somewhere along the way decided that when their spawn makes these sounds during the same period that the spawn soils itself and constantly drools that he/she/it is directly referring to his/her/its father. Hence, “dad” became a synonym for “father.” I can’t argue with this line of thinking.

When we combine these two proven facts: (1) John Lynch has a father, and (2) “dad” is a synonym for “father,” we can deduce that John Lynch has a dad. I think we all know why I aced philosophy in college now. Before we get to a John Lynch’s dad though, I first need to talk about a college friend of mine affectionately known as “The Ox.”

When I arrived on the campus of Notre Dame in 2001 as a freshman, it did not take long for me to hear the tales of The Ox. I did not know him yet, but the stories of him shot-gunning an entire keg of beer and then eating the keg were already the thing of legend. I can’t remember the first time I laid eyes on The Ox, but what I can tell you is that when I saw him, I knew the stories of his keg shot-gunning abilities were true.

Like Paul Bunyan, John Henry, and Justin Bieber, the full origin of The Ox is unknown. The one detail I know to be true is that The Ox came from San Diego, CA, and I’ll explain why that is important shortly. During Brent and I’s junior years, we became good friends with The Ox. I never saw him shot-gun a keg of beer, but there are two other things that helped solidify the legend of The Ox in my mind. The first was The Ox’s uncanny use of the “negative agreement.”

I think most everyone knows that person who is a one-upper or who loves to disagree with everything you say. You know how it goes. If you say Notre Dame is having a good season, this friend tells you why they’re actually having a horrible year. If you talk about this awesome steak recipe you cooked last weekend, this friend tells you about his even more incredible streak recipe that he did last weekend. However, it takes a special person to consistently agree with you by disagreeing. That’s what The Ox could do. The “negative agreement” is an art more than a method of speech. The Ox was a true master. A typical conversation between yourself and The Ox might go something like this.

You: Dude, that bartender last night was freakin’ hot.

Ox: No, that bartender last night was unbelievably hot!

You: Oh yeah man, I can’t believe she didn’t even charge us for our drinks.

Ox: No, she didn’t even bother to run our tabs on those drinks!

You: What a great night, let’s do it again tonight.

Ox: No, we’re definitely doing that again tonight.

You: Ummm…..the sky is blue.

Ox: No, the sky is unbelievably blue. Like, bluer than blue…

The Ox had found a way to successfully integrate the one-up technique with the disagree technique so that he was actually able to disagree with any statement you made, even if he was just agreeing. I’d never met a person who could disagree with every sentence that came out of my mouth before meeting The Ox, and I’ll probably never meet one again.

That leads me to the second thing The Ox became legendary for, and that was storytelling. Constantly the topic of conversation was San Diego. It’s a mythical place in a land far away…California. I believe he once told me that it had never rained there, and that people rode unicorns instead of driving cars. I believe him. He would come back from a vacation from school and entertain us with his stories, and this is where John Lynch’s dad makes his appearance.

If I recall correctly, John Lynch’s dad worked with The Ox’s father (a mythical beast in his own right). That may not be accurate, but their families definitely knew each other somehow. The Ox would provide stories of going to get a drink with “John Lynch’s dad” or getting to meet “John Lynch’s dad” for brunch on a perfect sunny morning in San Diego. Sometimes, the stories would be about how “John Lynch’s dad” had talked to The Ox about what John Lynch was doing in the NFL. I remember each story fondly.

What separates The Ox from the rest of us is that if most of us told these stories they would have been mundane, non-repeatable experiences from a trip home. The story would have been nothing more than “I got a drink with one of my dad’s friends from work.” However, this was San Diego! More importantly, this was John Lynch’s dad! Clearly, there was something special here. The Ox had a way of extracting maximum value from the ordinary.

I don’t know John Lynch’s dad. I’m sure he’s a great person, and he should be very proud of his son’s accomplishments. By contrast, I sure as hell know “John Lynch’s dad.” That man is legend. He turns everyday occurrences into newsworthy events. Whatever it is, “John Lynch’s dad” makes it better. During senior year at Notre Dame especially, any The Ox story was not complete without reference to “John Lynch’s dad.” My roommate that year made a point of asking The Ox whether “John Lynch’s dad” was there anytime The Ox told one of his stories. We all knew the story was not complete unless “John Lynch’s dad” was there.

And that leads us to the title of this blog. Really, the blog should be “John Lynch’s Dad” instead of just John Lynch’s Dad. “John Lynch’s Dad” embodies the making of legend out of everyday human experience. It’s changing the ordinary into the extraordinary. There is no limit to where Brent and I’s rambling may go in the months to come. There’s no topic off limit. Just be assured, we will find that “John Lynch’s Dad” moment in everything we write about.



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