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It's a Beautiful Day at the Super Bowl...

I promised you all more funny Baby Charlie stories, and Baby Charlie stories you shall have.

When I was in second grade, Mr. Rogers passed away. He was a beloved part of my childhood, and as I’ve gotten older, I still feel warm and fuzzy on the inside when I’m wearing a cardigan. On my bad days, I can pretend it’s a hug from him. I never even knew him but I have distinct memories of his calming voice making me feel loved and accepted for who I was, even when I didn't know who that was, just that who I was wasn't being accepted. Even with as sad as I was that he wouldn’t be on television anymore, I don’t remember myself, or my peers, being particularly crushed that he had passed away. Whether it be that I had a solid grasp that everyone dies, or it was the early beginnings of some autism/depression/anxiety/ADHD brain soup combo move, I remember it was more of a “that’s too bad” than a tearful “NOOOOOOOOO”.

Sometime after he passed away, I was sitting in music class before we began our daily activities. Usually, we’d all goof off and chat during this time, doing whatever it is kids that age do (I’ve been alive a long time and forgotten some of the specifics). Our teacher, Mr. Taylor, was a brilliant music teacher for kids. If you ever watched Arthur, he was the equivalent of Arthur’s choir substitute. The one who took them on a trip to Crown City where they’d get to eat mile high pastrami sandwiches and sing in the show’s Carnegie Hall equivalent. Then they get snowed in, and he decided he wasn’t about to let these punks be losers, so he had them perform their set in the diner and brighten the lives of the customers there. The teacher was rough around the edges, but held himself to a high standard, and instilled a similar sense in his students, teaching them the great art of what it means to be a performer, and not just a kid singing at a choir concert. Mr. Taylor had a similar impact on me as a kid. He was sort of no-nonsense in a way I was familiar with because of my parents, and he taught me how to hold and conduct myself as a performer. This created an interesting dynamic when it came to discussing the death of a beloved television uncle/grandfather figure we’d all been acquainted with and semi-attached to as 7-and-8-year-olds.

To be honest I can’t remember who brought it up. I just know Mr. Taylor was in the room with all of us setting up AV equipment, readying his lesson plan, and getting out the materials he’d need for the day. Suddenly, all of us were discussing the finer points of Mr. Rogers’ demise. We delved into cause of death first.

“He died of cancer.” Someone said.

" My grandpa had cancer and died." Someone else volunteered.

"I wonder what kind of cancer he had." Someone inquired

And then...

“He didn’t die of cancer, he died at a football game.” Said Jared.

To paint the picture on Jared, he was an interesting kid. He sounded like a 40 year old trailer park mom who smoked a pack a day, and he had a short blond haircut with a rat tail. I think he had some kind of speech impediment with his r’s or d’s or s’s. He also wore his Cub Scout uniform at every opportunity he got. I distinctly remember it because there were other cub scouts in my class and Jared wore it more often than they did.

We all turned to look at Jared. Some of us giggled. Jared got defensive.

“He went to the super bowl. He got hit in the stomach with a football there and he died!”

The class lost the remaining manners we collectively had and burst into laughter. Mr. Taylor was caught off guard by the noise and asked what was going on.

“Jared said Mr. Rogers got hit in the stomach by a football at a football game and died!” said someone, who was quite literally rolling on the floor laughing.

“I DID NOT!” Jared yelled (Narrator: he absolutely did).

“Jared, Mr. Rogers did not die by football. He got cancer and passed away.” Said Mr. Taylor in the most exasperated teacher voice possible.

I still think of this story occasionally and laugh. It’s not even that funny. It just gets me every time that some kid heard that Mr. Rogers died by getting hit in the stomach with a football at a football game and thought it was real enough that he not only told other people that story, but full on corrected someone who said Mr. Rogers died of Cancer.

“Cancer?” he must have thought. “No way. I bet he went to the super bowl and got hit with a flying football and then died”.

It gets me every time.

Baby Charlie is on the far right at a choir concert. We were definitely not told to dress nicely. I definitely overdressed, in the face of my mother who told me I was overdressing. I did not care. I was the star of the choir.


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