It’s time to get back to the modern era of football so I will be conducting a replay of the 2015 NFL season. This season has so many personal “highs and lows” that it will always stay with me. Watching my beloved Jets was a joy, it was the year of “Fitz-Magic”. The Jets had a pair of 1,000 yard receivers, 1,000 rusher, and the fourth-rated defense in the league. This is the first season that a Jets wide receiver (Brandon Marshall) was coded as A* since Al Toon’s 1988 card.
I was still living in Huntsville, Alabama, at the time and I was trying to provide for and take care of my bedridden mother who lived in Naples, Florida, and was in the final months of her life. Every season I’m amped up about opening day, however, this one was a little different. The morning of the Thursday night opener between the Steelers and Patriots, I was at the hospital getting an echocardiogram. I remember my heart was in full-scale AFIB during the exam. I remember the technician asking me “who my cardiologist was?” I answered that I didn’t have one and she immediately responded “You will.” Three hours later, Becky and I are at the cardiologist to learn that I was in congestive heart failure due to a prolapsed mitral valve. From that moment on, there were a few late night gurney rides to the hospital until I realized the value of eliminating any sodium from my diet.
Earlier in the year, I arranged for my mother to receive palliative care from Hospice which was a blessing but during the season several trips down to Naples were required due to her rapidly declining health. I’m still saddened that I had to cut Mark Zarb’s Thanksgiving visit short due to another emergency trip to Florida. My mother was also a die-hard Jets fan and we would always discuss and diagnose each week’s game. So it was fitting, that the last time we did this was after the Jets overtime, come-from-behind victory over the Giants. My mother passed away on December 15th and I buried her two-days later on my birthday. Fitzpatrick threw a pair of fourth quarter interceptions at Orchard Park and the Jets post-season hopes came to an end. I got to watch “Wild Card” weekend from a hospital bed a couple days removed from having open heart surgery.