For today's MMQB, we thought it would be fun to reflect on your first memory of the Nittany Lions. Was it a trip to Beaver Stadium as a child where you were awed by the sites and sounds of gameday? Perhaps it was receiving a jersey as a gift from an enthusiastic relative looking to turn you into a Penn State fan. Maybe you were born into a Penn State family and had the love of the Nittany Lions ingrained in your heart and mind before you even had your first memory.
I had a somewhat long and winding journey to becoming a Penn State fan, so my first real memory of the team is what planted the seed to becoming a die-hard Nittany Lions fan.
I grew up in an NFL household where the world would stop each Sunday to watch the Cleveland Browns, as well as whatever other games happened to be on the local channels that week. College football was more of an afterthought- something that was enjoyed here and there, but not a priority. My childhood bedroom was painted orange with brown carpet and had posters of Bernie Kosar plastered on all four walls. With the Browns actually being in contention for the AFC most years (what could have been if not for that rotten John Elway...), there just wasn't much thought paid to college football.
So one Saturday afternoon, with my mom and sister off at a baby shower or shopping trip or something, my dad and I settled in our basement to watch the Notre Dame-Penn State game. We had a family-friend who played for some incredible Notre Dame teams in the late-80s, so I was more than familiar with the Irish, but knew nothing of their opponent. I actually misheard my dad and thought he told me the other team was Kent State, which made sense to me since we lived about an hour from Kent and had several relatives who attended school there. He eventually corrected me once he realized I had the wrong team in mind (although I thought it was strange a college team was named after a writing utensil).
For the next three hours I was glued to the TV watching these two teams in a tight, hard-hitting contest. Penn State was wearing their all-white road uniforms, and I just couldn't get over how cool their helmet looked- just that simple white helmet adorned with the blue stripe down the middle drew me right in. There was something that always stuck with me about that game- just a bunch of college kids without contracts battling it out in the snow in a game that was ultimately decided by this weird thing called a two-point conversion (this was a few years prior to the NFL coming around and implementing the rule).
There was just something that spoke to me about that game that made me think "This is what football is all about"- two teams battling for pride in the mud and snow. Between the uniforms and my dad mentioning "That coach is a classy guy," throughout the contest made me realize there was something I really liked about Penn State.
A few years later, the Browns would test my loyalty by releasing Kosar before tearing my heart out completely by moving to Baltimore a couple years later. The NFL became less and less important, and each year my fervor for Penn State would grow. In the end, I'm certainly glad things worked out the way they did.
So that's my story. Now what's your first memory of Penn State??