Sports Is Family Affair When Your Cousin Plays In The NFL
Growing up in the South often involves lots of playing outside, and those Friday night football lights at your local high school are important.
They meant even more to my Southern family because a local football field is where my adopted cousin, Michael Gallup, got his start. He had a successful high school career in the small town of Monroe, Georgia. Then he attended Butler Community College in Kansas to become a wide receiver and pursue his dreams. My family couldn’t be prouder.
He was later injured while playing at Butler, and sat out with a severe ankle injury. His ankle was never the same, but boy was he determined.
I grew up with many adopted cousins from all over the world, and my family never thought of any of them differently. Family was family. Mine, like most Southern families, was close-knit. We were always at each other’s houses building forts and playing in the creek with our cousins or riding four-wheelers in the mud at Grandma and Grandpas.
After Michael’s JUCO career, other college coaches saw his talent despite his injury, and the offers began rolling in. He eventually committed to play at Colorado State University. He moved there, made many new friends, fell in love with his team and the new town of Fort Collins, and felt right at home.
After that move out West, his football career skyrocketed. According to SportsReference.com, in just two short years, he had almost 2,700 receiving yards and scored 21 touchdowns in his time at Colorado State. He was the star of his team, and everyone was talking about a boy from Georgia named Michael Gallup.
During his last year in Colorado, he began getting looked at by NFL Scouts and professional teams. With a 4.5 40-yard dash time in the NFL Combine, he was selected by the Dallas Cowboys as a 3rd round draft pick. Our family was ecstatic.
As a rookie in the NFL, playing with big names such as Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, there was no doubt in Michael’s mind that he had to start off strong in Dallas. During Michael’s rookie season, he had 507 receiving yards and two touchdowns. You can already expect that my family was at every game we could be at cheering the loudest in the stands. If we were cheering from home, the neighbors heard us screaming at our TVs for #13 Michael Gallup.
Sports meant the world to him growing up. “It was my way to provide for my family,” he said, “especially my mom. I really wanted to take care of her and my siblings.”
Religion has always been big in our family, especially to Michael’s mom, my Aunt Jenny. God came first and was to thank for all of our blessings. “All of this, I never expected, but I have no one to thank more than God above,” Michael said.
There are many Southern family traditions, but none like the importance of sports down South. Sports becomes a part of a Southerner’s life early on beginning with little league teams, then travel baseball in middle school, and joining the middle school football team is a big deal. It was like this for every boy in my family. Obviously, girls were put into different sports like soccer and volleyball.
This tradition continues in high school sports when the whole family comes out to those Friday night football games under the big lights. Families also watch their favorite college sports teams together on the couch.
Luckily, for my cousin, it went beyond the college level. Our family has been able to enjoy NFL Sundays on a personal level, cheering on our favorite #13.