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Tough circumstances have forced me to cancel the Bama-A&M trip

I’ll never forget the feeling of nearly passing out as I saw my dad, John, for the first time in August 2020 after he had completed treatment for throat cancer. I nearly passed out. I hadn’t seen him all summer due to his doctor’s concerns with COVID and dad’s weakened immune system. Needless to say, I wasn’t prepared to see him so thin & pale. As I walked up to his patio where he was standing it shook me to my core, but it didn’t take long for him to put my kids at ease and I quickly understood that he was still himself. The treatment had taken its toll physically, but mentally he was still in the game. 

My stepmother said he ate more that day than he had in at least two months. Soon he started putting weight back on and got back to his old self. They would go to Florida in early November for the winter and by early January, I learned that he had taken up golf again after several years of suffering from shoulder issues brought on by chaining down heavy equipment to his flatbed semi-trailer as part of his six-days-a-week retirement job at an equipment rental company. 

Things were humming along in 2021 with his golf game in Florida and then he returned to Ohio. No issues with the shoulder. Cancer checkups here and there. In early September we began to work on a fall football trip plan.

What I didn’t know is that dad, who is fiercely private with his health, was being scanned and there it was on one of his scans. 

Cancer. 

A spot on one of his lungs.

The timeline is foggy at this point, but treatments started and he was in for College Station. It was his call. I asked if he was sure. He said yes and we left it at that. 

And then he changed his mind. He says it was all a little too much. The timing and travel just won’t work. 

The finality of the decision was a sobering moment. Dad and I had an absolutely wonderful time a few years ago in College Station when we took a day trip from Fort Worth — we were in Texas to see the Bengals get destroyed by the Cowboys — to experience GameDay outside Kyle Field before the Tennessee game. A&M fans were so inviting that day and I have had nothing but incredible interactions with TAMU fans since coming to OutKick. 

A&M fans were set to welcome us back to town next week, but it will have to wait. I am grateful to all of you who offered up tailgating invitations and to show us a good time. It’s clearly not in our nature to miss a football trip, but it just wasn’t meant to be. 

This was supposed to be year 14 of the annual football trip. I still remember 2008 at LAX like it was yesterday. I met my dad in the airport and there he was in his trusty jorts and Nikes that should’ve been thrown away 10 years prior. We had an incredible time in Los Angeles, even though Ohio State was destroyed in the Coliseum, and we vowed to do a fall trip for as long as possible.

The years piled up along with the wild memories from Los Angeles to Bourbon Street to a tailgating lot in Morgantown where we drank beers with shoeless locals and two of my buddies who still work for ESPN GameDay. Those GameDay guys still talk about the shoeless & toothless locals grabbing beers out of random coolers.

Even in 2020, we were able to sneak in a trip to the Super Bowl festivities before COVID and my dad’s cancer diagnosis. I’ll never forget dad’s reaction to experiencing Radio Row where I was doing interviews with my broadcast partner. Dad was in awe. He had done some fun football stuff thanks to my Internet connections, but he’d never been around so many Hall of Famers and NFL greats. Even a quick interaction with Ryan Leaf blew his mind. I count it as our 2020 trip. Those are my rules.

It’s been one helluva run and we can start another run next year. Dad has decided that he wants to head north to experience golf in northern Michigan for the first time in his life. I suggested it after he decided the football trip wasn’t going to work and he loved the idea of experiencing nature and golf like he’s never played. 

I’m excited to do something, anything.  

And dad’s excited. He’s so pumped up that he went out to Dick’s and bought a rangefinder and new, legitimate wicking golf pants.  

I’ve spent the last week checking up on him to make sure he’s physically in the ballgame. I’ll pull the plug if he gives me the word, but dad has assured me that next Thursday he’ll be in my driveway and we’re heading north into the woods to chase golf balls.  

While it won’t be our annual football trip, it’ll be something and at this point in life, that’s all that matters. 

The father-son football trip resume:

2008: #5 Ohio State – #1 USC (the trip that started it all; terrible game, but incredible time, simply amazing)

2009: #3 Alabama – #20 Ole Miss (blowout city, but Ole Miss didn’t lose the party that day)

2010: #7 Florida – #1 Alabama (John Brantley didn’t stand a chance; partied in 1950s-era apartments just outside Bryant-Denny that have since been bulldozed for some insane gameday rental complex)

2011: #2 LSU – # 16 West Virginia (it was as great as it sounds; this should be LSU’s permanent out of conference game)

2012: #1 Alabama – #5 LSU (the McCarron miracle)

2013: #12 Texas A&M – #22 LSU (Johnny was mentally checked out, the weather wasn’t ideal)

2014: #3 Alabama – #11 Ole Miss (had to bribe a ticket taker to get in and it was worth it)

2015: #9 Michigan State – #2 Ohio State (yep, it was miserable)

2016: Tennessee-A&M GameDay; Bengals-Cowboys (miserable Bengals performance, but we loved Jerry’s World)

2017: Bears-Packers (Thursday night, a storm came through and the temps dropped like 40 degrees) 

2018: Stanford – #5 Notre Dame (went to the 7-Eleven, bought supplies, stepped outside, found a table, and met all sorts of locals who wanted to have a drink; incredible time, South Bend should be on your bucket list) 

2019: Chiefs-Lions (wild 34-30 Chiefs victory, KC goes on to win the Super Bowl)

2020: Super Bowl Week on South Beach 

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Written by Joe Kinsey

I'm an Ohio guy, born in Dayton, who roots for Ohio State and can handle you guys destroying the Buckeyes, Urban Meyer and everything associated with Columbus.

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