broadsideblog

Why everyone, including very large football players, needs a stuffed animal

In aging, animals, behavior, children, domestic life, parenting on November 17, 2012 at 1:19 am

I love this story!

Turns out even very large, powerful men appreciate the power of a stuffed animal. This is about the New York Giants football team.

From The New York Times:

Everyone knows about Tom Coughlin’s intensity. Everyone knows about Eli Manning’s arm. But, several Giants players say, a little-known key to the team’s success in recent years stands about two feet high. It is covered in fur, pleasant but not precocious, and goes by the endearingly simple name Little Bear.

Eric Gay/Associated Press

James Brewer, a rookie last season, was Little Bear’s custodian when the Giants won the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

His value cannot be overstated, they say. Yes, preparation matters to the Giants. So do practice repetitions, strength training and film study. But along with other mainstays, like Manning, one of the few constants in the Giants’ run to two Super Bowl titles in the past five years has been the presence of Little Bear, the offensive line’s prized stuffed animal.

“Let’s be honest,” guard Chris Snee said, gesturing reverently in Little Bear’s direction. “He’s critical to what we do. He’s an inspiration.”

Hell, yeah!

Here’s a photo of my own line-up, who hang out atop the shelf beside my bed, yes, the one I share with my husband.

Left to right, a monkey Jose bought for me, who makes a shrieking monkey noise. The brown bear was a post-surgical gift from Jose. The small white bear I’ve had since I was very small, probably given to me when we lived in England, ages two to five. He’s been all over the world with me, from Ireland to Vegas. The bunny was a gift after one of my four orthopedic surgeries, from Jose. He, too, travels well and is often in my suitcase or carry-on. In the closet, in such tatters I can’t reconstitute him is Bunny, given to me one Easter by my maternal grandmother, who carried me through my roughest moments of childhood into my late 20s.

And here is Jose’s line-up, some less cuddly than others.

Left to right: The lovely wool Arctic hare was a Christmas present to me from Jose, a Canadian icon. The whalebone Inuit sculpture was a gift from me to him; ditto. The wooden walrus, which opens up to offer a hiding spot, was a gift from him to me. The loon, which emits one of my favorite and most Canadian of sounds — a loon call — was bought on one of our many cross-border gift shop stops on a trip north to Canada.

And I’m fine with it.

My husband, Jose, a career news photographer and editor, has photographed war and riots and dead bodies. In my work as a journalist, I’ve seen car windows sheeted with blood, confronted extreme poverty and listened carefully to tales of rape and nightmarish violence.

When I wrote my first book about women and guns, in which I heard extremely upsetting and graphic stories of homicide, suicide and life-altering injury, I ended with up with secondary trauma, a normal consequence of immersing oneself in dark and frightening material, as happens to journalists and photographers. Jose and I each have enough darkness and misery jammed into our heads from decades in news journalism that some friendly, inanimate and portable pals are a very welcome addition to our world.

(And, with no kids or young nieces or nephews, the only way we get near toys is if we buy them ourselves!)

I was in boarding school at eight, and summer camp for eight weeks at the same age. I had no brothers and sisters growing up, so my stuffed animals were often my playmates. I hated dolls — hard, stiff, unyielding — but treasured my cuddly menagerie.

Here’s the small white bear in Banff, Alberta in March 2010, hanging out with his Canadian pals, Mountie bears; the Mounties are the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, our national police force.

Here are some links to lovely stuffed toys for sale:

Here’s a teddy bear.

And another.

And a zebra.

And, from the legendary New York toy store F.A.O. Schwarz, for the child who has seen it all…a woolly mammoth cub.

And, for all you fans of Babar and Celeste, a new stuffed Babar! Babar, created 80 years ago, is an elephant who normally wears a handsome emerald green suit — French, bien sur!

Did you have stuffed animals growing up?

Do you still?

  1. I had a line up of stuffed animals on my bed when I attended college in Galway, Ireland. They were all named after literary characters! I always wondered why the boyfriends never wanted to stay the night, now I realise there wasn’t enough room in the bed :-)

  2. What a hoot! They were probably better company anyway. :-)

  3. I had an insane number of stuffed animals and have since rid myself of all but the best companions. Back home are Loldy (the stuffed dalmation I had since I was two), Tim (the teddy my uncle-of the same name-bought me at Herod’s when I was born), Metro (the Trudi stuffed panther i bought for 80euros in Italy), and some others. I can’t get over them. I even caved and bought a stuffed Magellanic Penguin from the Monterey Bay Aquarium last year – he now lives with me at college. My traveling companion? Lefty – the first beanie baby I ever got (the democrat donkey). It seems silly, but there’s a reason that everyone loves stuffed animals – soft and cuddly things are the best.

  4. My daughter has a toy cat with wires hanging out the back of it. They used to be connected to a mechanism that made it meow like something out of a horror movie and wave its paw. She’s had it for years and its simply call the Dead Cat. I don’t know what she’d do if she lost it.

  5. I love this post. Confession: I have a “special pillow” that I call “Heaty” who sleeps with me every night. I pop him in the microwave and once the cool weather comes, I really need him. I mean, my husband is good — but, he can’t get THAT hot. LOL!

    Thank you for visiting me at my place when I was Freshly Pressed for recently turning 45. Oy, what a piece of poop. You never know what they are going to FP — and I am grateful because I get to check out so many new people — but seriously, that was not representative of my writing skills! ;-)

    ANyway, I just wanted to tell you that your comment left an impression. I hope you keep on writing and that you keep on feeling fabulous — even when you are 98.1437. ;-)

  6. I got a stuffed bear the day I was born, and it still lives on my bed. J. tried to tease me the first time he saw it but was ruthlessly corrected. That bear was my best friend (and sometimes alter ego) growing up, it went on every single adventure, and to this day still travels in carryons as I refuse to risk lost luggage. The bear will be respected!

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