I honestly don’t know much about Jack Kemp. I’m not old enough to have seen him play, and my political memory is even less active. For the four of us in the Roost, he was the quarterback of our fathers.
But that doesn’t mean the news of his passing isn’t sad. It’s interesting what we as a society mourn. For some it will be a sadness for his family and the loss they endure. For others it will be his political ideology or how similar it matched your own. People that don’t know Kemp personally will find some very interesting ways to be sad about someone’s passing, and as a football fan who never say him take a snap it’s about as extreme as you can get.
I think for guys like us Kemp’s passing represents another link to the game slipping away. Football in Buffalo is something passed down through families, and in a way players like Jack Kemp are the reason we become fans in the first place. He’s the guy who got you or your father excited about the game, and the stories your family tells about Kemp of Simpson are the reason you still watch today.
Sure we watch to see teams win, but we also watch for stories of our own. We want players like Trent Edwards and Marshawn Lynch to be the next Kelly and Thomas so we can say we were around to see them. For many of us this love of sports isn’t going anywhere, and we want to have stories to tell our children as well.
I’ve never met Jack Kemp in my life, and I’m not going to pretend that his passing has touched me on a deep level. Still, today I’m thinking about the players we cheer for in the bigger picture. Oftentimes players feel interchangeable in pro sports, but every once in a while a guy becomes much more than the stats he produced. Kemp was one of those guys, and days like this wish we had more guys like him.