Ask Dr. Gramma Karen: A Grandmother’s Letter to Her Grandchildren


Dear Readers,

In the spirit of National Grandparents Day on September 7th, I want to share a letter that a grandmother wrote to her grandchildren.

I am collecting letters between grandparents and grandchildren. If you have a letter you wrote (or wish you had written!) as a grandparent or one that you received as a grandchild, and if you are willing to share it (anonymously), please send it along to me. It can be on any topic. I will post them.

Happy Grandparents Day.

Gramma Karen


Dear Grandchildren,

I just finished reading a book about football that has made a huge impression on me. (I know, I know – Grandma reading football books?!) One of the reasons I am reading football books is because you kids love the sport and have such a good time with it, so I want to know more about it and be part of the good times, too.

Anyway, the book is titled Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football. The author, Nicholas Dawidoff, spent every day of the 2011 football season with the Jets as they teamed up and set their sights on the Super Bowl. He spent about 15 hours or more a day at their training facility in Florham Park, NJ.

He was allowed access to everything, including: attending their strategy planning meetings; reviewing videos of practice and game plays; being at their training sessions; traveling with the team on the bus and planes to every game; being right there in the locker room and the press boxes. He was there for everything.

Jets Owner Woody Johnson, Head Coach Rex Ryan, and General Manager Mike Tannenbaum wanted Mr. Dawidoff to write this book so people (like ignorant grandmothers) could go behind the scenes and really learn what football is all about.
Mission accomplished! I learned tons from reading this book, and there are two main things I want to share with you.

First, I had always assumed that professional football players were clunky, not-too-bright, no-neck meatheads who played rough-and-tumble football in hopes they would earn a ton of undeserved money while they safely acted on their tendencies towards violence. I could not be more wrong in so many ways!

Of course superb manual and physical skills of football are required, but, as I learned, playing professional football requires a lot of developed intelligence to score because the players have to:

  1. Know everything about the game – like the rules, what they can and cannot do.
  2. Understand everything about the game and be able to explain things to others.
  3. Apply what they know and understand to try to score without getting a penalty.
  4. Analyze what’s going on while it’s going on.
  5. Take what’s going on and synthesize or create on-the-spot decisions of what needs to happen.
  6. Evaluate and make judgments on how to proceed, that is, score!

And then an athletically talented and intelligent football player keeps going through these steps in rapid-fire time over and over again while taking in new instructions and calls for plays from their coaches and teammates. This requires a ton of smarts! No dummies here!

Now for the second thing I learned from this book. A consistent wish both your parents and we grandparents have for you is that you make a living when you are older by doing something you love. From reading this book I learned that there are lots of opportunities for you kids, if you so desire, to make a living being part of the football world without being or having been an actual football player.

For example, the Jets have nine different defense coaches, nine different offense coaches, 15 front office positions, including scouts and draft coordinators, a psychologist, and various personnel types. In addition, there are numerous other positions supporting a team, including filming the games; marketing the team’s events; planning all the on-the-road activities such as hotels, meals, press conferences; security. The list goes on and on.

The point I want to make is that it is realistic to think about a job in the football world when you get older. There are many colleges that offer degrees in sports management; in fact I found a list with over 125. Some of them I have never heard of, but others are well known, such as the University of Michigan and New York University. So, if you are interested in business or law or medicine or creative arts or marketing or physical education, and a host of other professions, you can think about linking a degree in sports management and one of these fields so you can become part of the football system.

All I’m saying is Dream Big Dreams, kids. I still don’t understand a first down from an off-side whatever, but from reading this book I do understand why you love the sport.

I have a new and huge respect for football and football players.

Love you, miss you,

P.S. 1 – I am not sure how this book, Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football, ended up in my bookcase. Who put it there?!

P.S. 2 – If you read this book, be prepared that the eff-word is used quite a bit.

P.S. 3 – Because they feared bodily harm, Tom Brady’s parents would not let him play tackle football until he was 14 years old. I’m just saying . . .

The Grandchildren’s Reactions:

One grandson was intrigued and asked his mother to read it to him a second time. Another grandson announced he was adding one of the universities mentioned to his list of colleges of interest. A third grandson said, “Wow! Grandma wrote that?!” A granddaughter, obviously bored, walked off before her mother finished reading it to them.

Ask Dr. Gramma Karen is published every other Tuesday.
E-mail queries to [email protected]

Visit to learn about Dr. Gramma Karen’s book,
Ask Dr. Gramma Karen:  Helping Young Parents and Grandparents Deal with Thorny Issues

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