What Boomer and I have in common
The legendary NFL quarterback for the Bengals, Jets and Cardinals created the Boomer Esiason Foundation in 1993 when his then two-year-old-son, Gunnar, was diagnosed with CF, a genetic chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States. The foundation provides education and awareness of the incurable disease to provide higher quality of life for its patients.
I was diagnosed with CF at birth. (Also, we’re both left-handed).
Before I even knew what the rules were in football, much less cared, I was obsessed with this one quarterback. Someone famous has a son with CF? Coolest thing ever.
He was going to be my favorite football player, hands down. I had no idea who he played for, if he was even that good, or if he even still played for that matter.
He was an advocate of a disease that for most of my life has been put on the back burner, so he was already my sports hero.
I could name all of the awards he’s won for his football achievements. He holds several NFL career records for left-handed quarterbacks, including most touchdown passes (247), passing yards (37,920) and completions (2,969), and led the AFC in passing in both 1988 and 1989.
But, the honor most important to me is Boomer’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 1995 for his charitable work (It was CF, for those of you keeping score at home).
One of Boomer’s more popular efforts is Team Boomer, a program that provides an avenue for individual athletes in a variety of sports to raise money for CF, and offers assistance to grassroots athletic events looking for a cause to support. Most recently, Team Boomer’s 115 ING New York City Marathon runners raked in more than $500,000 to support CF research for their 26.2-mile run on Nov. 6.
The only difference in the admiration I have for the NFL Today Analyst now is that I know who he played for; he played well; and he doesn’t play anymore. But, he’s still my favorite football player.
Perhaps there are better NFL quarterbacks on paper, but I know of no other quarterback who supports a charity that affects my everyday life. Thanks, Boomer. It’s partly because of your efforts that I continue adding tomorrows, to every day, and I’m not doing it alone. But with all due respect, the 1993–1996 Giants were better than the Jets, and still are today.