My perspective of 9/11 is a little different than most folks. When 9/11 happened, I was a 24-year old Senior Airman in the United States Air Force that had just started a 3-month trip to Tuzla AB in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I had been at Tuzla for about two weeks, and was working the midnight shift as a weather observer right. My shift was from 7 PM to 7 AM every night (local time), so when I went to bed at around 8 AM local on September 11th, it was about 1 AM on the East Coast.
I woke up in the afternoon to start getting ready for my shift and did the usual. . .showered, shaved, got my uniform on, and was getting ready to go over to the chow hall for something to eat. As my roommate was working the day shift (from 7 AM to 7 PM), I had the room in our little hut to myself. I turned on our little TV to watch AFN before I went to eat, and all I saw was the chaos in New York and Washington, D.C. It was crazy, and being on a military base, the rumor mill was already in full swing. . .rumors of how they were going to move everyone currently at Tuzla to Afghanistan, how we were going to be there for six months instead of three, things of that nature.
I had spent much of my down time in the days leading up to 9/11 looking at stuff about how the Vikings had lost their opening week game to the Carolina Panthers at the Metrodome, which was highly unexpected for a team that had gone to the NFC Championship Game the previous season. (The Panthers, for the record, wouldn't win another game all year.) A couple of days after 9/11, obviously much of the conversation still centered around the events in New York and Washington, D.C. However, when Sunday came around, a lot of the conversation centered around how much we missed the NFL, which AFN showed live on Sunday and Monday. The next week, when the games were back on, we actually took a great deal of solace in the fact that our favorite game was back on television and we could watch our favorite athletes do what they love.
In the chaos that surrounded the events of 9/11 and the uncertainty that those of us in the Armed Forces felt in the aftermath of all of it, football was a very steadying, calming presence for all of us. In a strange way, seeing the NFL that next Sunday let all of us know that things were going to be okay.