I was lucky to be raised in a family that enjoys football. Some of my earliest memories are of football. I used to spend hours watching 49er games with my Grandpa, sitting in his garage while he would drink the Budweiser he loved and peeling oranges that he picked from the garden he grew himself with nothing but his two hands and a love of hard work. I used to sit in awe, as he would watch the referee call a penalty with nothing but hand motions, thinking it was a secret code that only he and the ref knew. He had a limp from his time in World War 2, and we made a deal that I'd go and get him a fresh beer for another lesson about the game.
I learned early on how devastating it is seeing someone be physically unable to do something they loved. He had contracted cancer and was given three months to live. Rather than accepting that prognosis, he spent another 10 years, enjoying life, and football.
Near the end though, our little game changed. As otherworldly strong as he was, no one can escape time. One of the few things that kept him going, his garden, became too much work for one 77-year-old veteran with cancer to tend.
So I did.
I'd walk home from elementary school, and later, middle school and high school, and instead of hanging out with friends doing the normal juvenile antics, I'd take care of his garden, because it's what needed to be done. It's what he needed done. The game never changed though. After a day of working, I'd get a soda and he'd continue teaching me about football. How offenses worked, how defenses worked, why special teams were in fact special. He was as eager to teach as I was to do whatever work needed to be done. It made him happy and, in turn, made me happy.
Unfortunately, he wasn't able to see the Lombardi being hoisted by red and gold again. He tried so hard, but like I said, no one can escape time.
Being given the opportunity to help cultivate my passion for the 49ers and inspire that passion in others was an opportunity I did not take lightly. I'd basically been a fanboy of the Hub for years before that opportunity. I was joining media personalities who, to me, were larger than life: Jerod Brown, Rob Lowder, "The" Jamie Neal, and Evan Sowards. It was a true dream team in a time, now more than ever, when we seldom get to dream.
Being able to watch these larger-than-life personalities, and to work and learn from them was astounding. I came in feeling like the smallest child on the jungle gym, and no one ever cared about that or made me feel like less. It then became about getting away from my personal insecurities, anxieties and depressions and learning from the role models I'd met thanks to social media.
Then we added to the group. Akash Anavarathan, Nicholas McGee. More legendary names. It was daunting. In ways, it still is daunting. Thankfully I was able to stay grounded. When I was brought in, so was Kevin Molina. We had been friends for years and now we got to learn and push ourselves, and through those bonds and the bond we developed with Evan, we developed friendships that will likely end only with death.
Recently though, we have experienced a changing of the guard. Akash has since departed in order to join the otherworldly team at Niners Nation, and our Managing Editor Kyle Breitkreutz recently left in order to be the father that his daughter needs in a time and society when it's needed the most. While their contributions can never and will never be forgotten, we will always appreciate what they have done. The Hub would literally not be what it is if it were not for them.
So that brings us to Now. Why is Now special?
Because Now is one of the most exciting times in recent 49ers history, and with the things we are planning, to us, Now is also the time in which we can make it the most exciting time in 49ersHub history.
When Kevin and I came in, what we had appreciated was the idea of 49ersHub being a training ground for others to come in, learn, and pursue their own journalistic endeavors. That's the history that we have cultivated here, where we find larger-than-life personalities, and watch and help them develop into the legends they were born to be, such as:
Jamie Neal - Outsports, Niners Nation
Jerod Brown - Bleacher Report, NinersWire
Rob Lowder - NinersWire
Bobby Horne - 49ersWebzone, Niner Noise
Zach Grier - The49thHour
Akash Anavarathan - Niners Nation, Fear The Sword
as well as current members:
Bret Rumbeck - 49ersWebzone
Johnny Kinsley - Brickwall Blitz, Music City Miracles, The Phinsider, Purple PTSD
Shelly Holt - The Lady Loves Sports
Nicholas McGee - SportingNews
Mark Sanz - Niners Nation
To watch these esteemed individuals be able to go on and pursue what they love is an honor and a privilege I will never forget.
While I have taken over the role of Editor-in-Chief and Director of 49ersHub, the idea of being able to expand the idea of the Hub into something greater has never left my mind.
You will see things you haven't seen before. You will hear things you haven't heard before. There will be new things you didn't know that you wanted, and all of this will be done with every day people, doing extraordinary things.
I don't feel like it is a coincidence that the 49ers introduced the new alternate uniforms this year. Taking fans back to a time when emotions and memories go hand-in-hand is a bond that goes beyond football. To be able to wear the "armor of legends" and see new legends playing in it will take me and others back to a time when they learned about the game from their own legends.
Well, we are still learning, and we will still be finding legends.
The 49ers may have The Armor of Legends, but we are working hard to be known as The News Site of Legends.
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