San Diegan writes book about attending 500 NFL games
Speaker 1: (00:00)
Many San Diegos have gone through a period of football withdrawal in the past few years, since the chargers left in 2016, some have switched allegiances to the local Aztecs or an out of town, NFL team, but that old fan feeling has been hard to come by. But now we can take inspiration from one San Diego who spread his love of NFL for football across the country. And across the years, former north county times journalist Brian GSU achieved his goal of attending 500 NFL games. And now he's written a book about his journey. The book is called the grass is always greener. One football fans, quest to attend 500 NFL games, author Brian Gish. She spoke with KBB S midday edition host Kavanaugh about his journey and the book. Here's that interview
Speaker 2: (00:48)
NA and thank you, Maureen. It's good to be with you
Speaker 3: (00:51)
Now. Lots of people are completely happy watching football on TV. What is it about attending the games that makes it special for
Speaker 2: (00:58)
You? Well, when you're there, you get the whole experience, not just what they fit into a box.
Speaker 3: (01:04)
And what does that whole experience do for you? What do you see that we don't see when we're watching it on TV? Uh,
Speaker 2: (01:12)
You don't get the full excitement of the fans and, you know, just the, uh, the energy, the electricity that, that, uh, uh, that excitement generates. And what
Speaker 3: (01:23)
Made you decide to set the goal of attending 500 games?
Speaker 2: (01:27)
Well, it's started out as something I was doing with, uh, baseball and football. I was trying to go to all those venues, um, where they played their games on natural grass, cuz that's my preferred surface. And I found with baseball, it's like I could do a one and done, but with football, I just love the, the game so much. I said, no, you know, I just wanna keep going back. I, I'm not, I'm not gonna set any limit on how often I visit. And that's when the number 500 popped into my head. I thought that would be a really nice challenge to shoot for.
Speaker 3: (02:00)
Now this goal wouldn't be an easy one or anyone, but you are living with cerebral palsy and you use a wheelchair. So I'm wondering, did people try to talk you out of this, of all this travel and expense?
Speaker 2: (02:13)
No, I always got encouragement and uh, uh, that stems, uh, directly from how I was raised by my parents. Uh, they made sure that I'd be as independent as possible. And uh, thankfully I, I do use a wheelchair, but that's generally only when I go to games for the most part, I travel on crutches. So I'm fortunate that while I do have cerebral palsy, I have a relatively mild case of it.
Speaker 3: (02:39)
You talked a little bit about the way you were raised, your love of football started during childhood. Can you talk to me a little bit about that?
Speaker 2: (02:46)
When I was a kid, uh, football was the one sport I could play, you know, and, um, because thanks to, uh, some operations I had when I was very young, I was able to get around without crutches for much of my childhood and, um, uh, being able to play football in the neighborhood with the kids I grew up with, that was just such a great shot of self-esteem made me feel so good that I could, uh, do something on par with them
Speaker 3: (03:12)
And does watching the game was, does watching the game also make you feel like that?
Speaker 2: (03:16)
Uh, watching the game room, my, me of those memories. So I get to appreciate the game being played at its highest level while also being reminded of my memories, playing it.
Speaker 3: (03:26)
Now, did the chargers leaving San Diego make a big impact on you?
Speaker 2: (03:31)
Yes. I was sad to see them go. I, I, I really felt a deal could have been made for them to stay, but I wasn't gonna let that keep me from, uh, uh, watching the NFL after all. I didn't, I didn't start out a chargers fan to begin with. I was a Miami dolphins fan for, uh, much of my life. Now,
Speaker 3: (03:50)
When you attended your 500th game in 2017, you weren't in San Diego, but you made it a point to wear a San Diego hat. What, why is that?
Speaker 2: (04:00)
Well, the chargers had just left San Diego and I didn't want the NFL or anybody else to forget San Diego.
Speaker 3: (04:08)
And you want San Diego to become a, an NFL city again? Oh, absolutely.
Speaker 2: (04:13)
I do believe it'll happen eventually. I think San Diego is simply too big a city for the NFL to ignore. And I think if we have a venue that, that they think would work for them, I, I think they would definitely consider coming back maybe a few games here and there and then eventually maybe a team again, but it may take a while. It could be 10, 20 years who knows. I, I just hope I'm around when it happens. What do you
Speaker 3: (04:39)
Think having a profession football team does for a city?
Speaker 2: (04:42)
Well, it can be a, a strong sense of civic pride, you know, and, uh, something for, for people to feel good about and something for them to gather for. I mean, look at the way the Padres have drawn fans at Petco park. I mean that, that, and that spirit is still there for them.
Speaker 3: (05:01)
You know, Brian, after you achieved that goal of attending 500 NFL games, what made you wanna write a book about
Speaker 2: (05:08)
It? Well, for many years, people had been saying, I should write a book about it, you know, my experiences. And, um, and at first I, you know, dismissed it. I say, I'm, I'm too busy. You know, going to the games. I don't have time to write about it. but, uh, the more I thought about it, the more I thought it'd be a good idea. Plus I thought, who knows, maybe it might inspire others to maybe do something similar or just something that shows them or reminds them that a, a disability, you know, and me not deter somebody from pursuing their dreams cause this was mine. And I didn't let at my disability stop me in any
Speaker 3: (05:43)
Way. Now I know you have a new goal now after that 500 NFL games is over with, tell us about that. How, how what's your new goal?
Speaker 2: (05:50)
My new goal is to see every team, uh, NFL team play, uh, at least 25 games or a hundred quarters, which I think sounds cooler and, uh, and of course the ground rules remain the same. Um, every game has to be playing on natural grass and, um, but there's a nice benefit to it, uh, to unlike, uh, my goal of seeing 500 where every game can only count once trying to see every team play 25 games. Occasionally I have two teams where I need to meet that goal. So I get two credits for one game. And in fact, uh, just last month in Pittsburgh, I saw the Steelers play the bears and it was my 25th game for gold teams. So I mean, it doesn't get better than that. a nice two for
Speaker 3: (06:43)
One deal. Your 500 game quest made you pretty famous. You've been featured on ESPN. What's it like getting recognized as you head for the next game?
Speaker 2: (06:53)
Oh, it it's nice, but I mean, um, I, I'd rather people focus on what I'm doing than who I am. I think, I think that's more important thing. Uh I'm I'm pursuing a dream and I'm, um, I'm enjoying it as much as possible. And I like it if I can encourage others to do the same.
Speaker 3: (07:11)
And the ticket stubs from your 500 game journey are now part of football history, aren't they?
Speaker 2: (07:18)
Yes. They reside in the pro football hall of fame in Kenton,
Speaker 3: (07:21)
Ohio. And why did you decide to donate them? Well,
Speaker 2: (07:24)
I wanted to, I made the hall and offer of, uh, uh, the memorabilia I had, uh, collected, uh, during my travels. And they said that what interested them most were the ticket stubs, because while they have, uh, uh, the programs I do, they, uh, felt they were a bit short in ticket stubs. And so they asked for mine and now they're even more of a collector item because it's next to impossible to find ticket stubs to games these days. Right.
Speaker 3: (07:53)
They're dying breed. Yes, you're absolutely right now. What do you hope reader is take away from your book?
Speaker 2: (08:00)
I hope that they take away that any dream is possible if you, um, are willing to do what it takes to pursue it. And, um, don't let people talk you out of it, you know, if it really touches your heart.
Speaker 3: (08:12)
Well, I've been speaking with Brian guu, he's a, a former San Diego journalist and he's a, the author of a new book. The grant is always greener. One football fans, quest to attend 500 NFL games. Brian, thanks so much for sharing.
Speaker 2: (08:27)
Thank you, Maureen. It was a pleasure.
Many San Diegans have gone through a period of football withdrawal in the past few years. Since the Chargers left in 2016, some have switched allegiances to the local Aztecs or an out-of-town NFL team, but that old fan feeling has been hard to come by.
One San Diegan has a different way of coping.
Former North County Times copy editor Brian Gushue achieved his goal of attending 500 NFL games, despite having cerebral palsy.
"Being able to play football in the neighborhood with the kids I grew up with, that was just such a great shot of self esteem. It made me feel so good that I could do something on par with them," he told KPBS Midday Edition. "Watching the game reminds me of those memories. So I get to appreciate the game being played at its highest level, while also being reminded of my memories playing it."
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Now he's written a book about achieving his goal called "The Grass Is Always Greener: One Football Fan’s Quest To Attend 500 NFL Games."
"I thought, who knows, it might inspire others to maybe do something similar or just something that shows them or reminds them that a disability need not deter somebody from pursuing their dreams, because this was mine and I didn't let my disability stop me in any way," Gushue said.