A 49ers love story

There are few things, it seems, in my personal life that aren’t in some way connected to this job I’ve held for one-and-a-half decades. Please allow me to tell one of those stories.

The year was nineteen hundred and ninety-eight. As a single man, I always greeted the announcement of the NFL schedule with great anticipation. It was always exciting to see what cities I’d be visiting as a traveling beat reporter who covers the 49ers.


In truth, while the actual dates to the games are announced in the spring, the destinations are known at the end of the previous season. Except, that is, for the exhibition schedule.


A decade ago – long before this interminable streak of six consecutive losing seasons – the 49ers were among the marquee teams in the NFL. Therefore, the 49ers were occasionally sought to travel to peculiar destinations to play games that did not matter.


This particular year, the 49ers were scheduled for one of these such appearances against the Seahawks in Vancouver, B.C.


Several years previously, I spent a weekend in Vancouver. My friend, Brad Mangin, an accomplished photographer, was assigned to snap photos of the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup for Sports Illustrated. He asked if I could join him to assist in the details of lugging his equipment, storing his film (yes, they used film in those days), and other aspects of getting his work shipped to New York to appear in the next publication.


I knew enough about Vancouver to be excited about a return trip. The streets are clean. The drinks flow freely. And the women are beautiful.


Little did I know when I left for Vancouver on Wednesday, Aug. 12, that my life was about to change forever.


The next evening there was a reception for both teams and both traveling parties at the Sheraton Hotel. I mingled through the room before settling in at a table with some of my acquaintances from the 49ers.


At a table that sat a dozen people, I was situated with then-general manager Dwight Clark, among others. But, perhaps, the reason I staked out that location was because a friendly, vivacious newcomer to the organization, Amy, was also sitting there. She worked in the 49ers’ marketing department.


On this road trip every 49ers employee was invited. Furthermore, each employee could bring a companion. Amy, thank goodness, did not bring her then-husband.


She brought Sarah.


Amy and Sarah were sorority sisters at the University of Oregon, though Sarah despised the way that sounded. She was decidedly un-sorority-like, if that makes sense. Sarah, a Bay Area native who spent a regrettable year of her life as a pre-teen in the Dallas area, also happened to be a 49ers fan.


I situated myself next to Sarah. We made small talk. I’m sure my irresistible charm was working on overdrive. (Or not.)


Anyway, we hit it off pretty darn well. The conversation was easy, and I was instantly attracted to this young woman who lived with several roommates in a Pacific Heights apartment.


The next day, I tried to get in contact with her, but our paths did not cross again in Vancouver.


Upon arriving back in the Bay Area, I rang Amy’s number at the 49ers’ Santa Clara facility to ask for Sarah’s phone number.


“She told me it was OK to give you her number if you called,” Amy told me, giving me the green light.


(I found out later that Amy provided me Sarah’s phone number, and then called Sarah to ask permission to give out her number. Thankfully, Sarah said it was all right.)


Why do I bother you with this tale?


Today, Dec. 16, Sarah and I celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary. We have two beautiful and precocious children, Jane and Lucy.


It’s funny how things in life work out. I know I will not cover the 49ers for my entire life. But because I’ve been fortunate enough to be in a job that I truly love, I met the true love – and loves — of my life.


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