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From the Super Bowl to the Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus: Two Memorable Weekends

February 26, 2016 by Herbert Daughtry

Part Two

Although I have been to many professional football games, this was my first time attending the Super Bowl. For five years, I was the unofficial chaplain for the New York Jets. I was eager to see Mr. Cam Newton, the quarterback for the Charlotte Hornets. I had followed his career since his college days. He had had a Most Valuable Player (MVP) Year. I was hoping he would duplicate Mr. Doug Williams’ defeat of the Denver Broncos in 1988 at the 22nd Super Bowl. Mr. Williams was the first Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl. I was hoping that Mr. Newtown would join the other Black Quarterback Super Bowl winners.

This Super Bowl was special for me for another reason. I was traveling with my son, Herb. Jr., and youngest daughter, Dawn. We were invited by my eldest daughter, Leah. She had said to me several months ago, “Dad, how would you like to go to the Super Bowl?” My eyes widened. My voice raised above its usual pitch. I replied, “Yeah, I’d love to go.” She said, “Alright, prepare your schedule for the Super Bowl weekend. I will take care of everything, including airfare, hotel, and, of course, the tickets.”

I was the first to arrive at the Jetblue Airline Terminal at JFK Airport in NYC. Later, Dawn and Dan arrived. I was profoundly touched by Herb Jr. when he handed me a neck pillow. He said, “Here Dad. I bought this for you. It’s going to be a long trip.”

He was concerned about my neck. He remembered the operation I had in 2011. My neck and throat never returned to normalcy. I am not able to lift my neck to its normal level. Sitting at long intervals can be very uncomfortable.

I gave him a big hug and thanked him profusely. His compassion and concern for others followed him through his career. Herb, Jr. graduated from the University of Chicago and Georgetown Law School to be a lawyer with a view towards helping our community. Later on, he decided he could best serve the community through education. He became an educator, and is now an Assistant School Superintendent in a certain large city.

The flight was scheduled for 6:30 p.m., but we departed at 9 p.m. While we waited, there were calls from Leah who had already settled in a hotel and was awaiting our arrival. She was concerned about our well-being. When we boarded the plane, Dawn sat next to me while Herb, Jr. was in a seat across the aisle.

During the five hour ride through the night, I wasn’t sure if I was asleep, or in the twilight zone, a reverie, or reality. However, my mind was clear enough to express gratitude to God, the Father, through my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ for countless blessings, and especially our children. How many fathers can testify that they are so close to their children, or that their children love them so much that they are overjoyed to be with them, and that they will invest time, energy, and resources, etc. to make their father’s heart glad?

I thought of their childhood, school years, careers, and how we never had to go to a police precinct or court room for any felonious act. Of course, all of them went to jail to free South Africa and Nelson Mandela when they were children. They have all finished their education, having graduated from the top universities in the country. They have all engaged in a service-oriented profession consistent with the family tradition.

Dawn is a middle school principal, and she is the founding Pastor of The House of Lord Church in Englewood, NJ. In addition to having her own consulting firm, On These Things, LLC; Leah is the Southeast District Superintendent and Pastor of The House of the Lord Church-Washington, D.C . She is also the CEO of the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC). She has made history by being asked to come back a second time. She was the CEO of the 2008 DNC.

There is Sharon, my second-born daughter, who for various reasons could not accompany us on the trip. She’s an entrepreneur, professional performing artist, and the administrator of all our non-sectarian, non-profit organizations and programs. She is the National Director of Artistic Expressions for The House of the Lord Church. Of course, I thought of my wife, Dr. Karen, the mother of our four children. She is the Executive Director of our daycare centers, pastor of The House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn, NY, and the Director of the National Women’s Department for our church.

We arrived in San Jose, CA at 11:30p.m. on Friday, February 5, 2015. The drive to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Santa Clara, California was only 15 minutes. The warm air was a stark contrast to the weather we left behind. Leah greeted us at the door as we alighted from the car.

Excitedly, she commenced telling us what she had done. In her efficient way, everything had been arranged. She gave us the schedule for the weekend events. In the lobby, excitement was building. Blurry-eyed, tired-faced, and sagging bodies gave unmistakable signs that the Super Bowl Party had already begun for some people.

In the lobby, around the bars, restaurants, and lounging areas, people were standing, sitting, eating, and drinking – mostly, drinking. They evidenced no signs of heading to their beds although their faces showed signs of disagreeing with their determination to stay awake. Even at that hour, people were still checking in. I don’t know how long the party lasted, but the long ride had made me ready for sleep.

As we headed to our rooms, Leah had to show us one more bit of the exciting news. We could see the Levi’s Stadium where the game would be held from our window. She said, “Our hotel is within walking distance of the Stadium.”

It was hard to go to sleep. My mind kept playing images of football players running passing, jumping, and tackling with fans wildly screaming. It felt like I was a child again at Christmastime. I couldn’t wait until the next day.

… to be continued.