Call me Botond.
I'm 28 and I live in Hungary. Yeah, I'm prepared for the jokes that I'm hungry, but usually I eat dinner when you guys eat your breakfast in the Bay Area. I'm 13,000 miles away and I need to take two planes to get to there and it takes about 3 months of average hungarian salary to make the trip.
But nothing is too far away or too expensive if you're in love with someone or, in my case, with something.
Here in the heart of Europe, football means soccer, and most Hungarians didn't know what America football is until 2012, when the first Hungarian Football League (HFL) started. There were leagues since 2005 and there were tries since 1992 (when I was born) to create teams, but real football started about 16 years ago.
Basically, Hungarian football is just a teenager. We have lots of things to learn and plenty of room for development. Both of my parents were succesful soccer players in amateur levels and my father had the chance to be a pro, but a horrific injury ended his carreer. So since I started walking, I was playing ball.
I was addicted to ball sports and because of my family I was addicted to soccer. I was a great player; I had an instinct to score from every possible angle with both of my legs and I was tall enough to deliver killer headers but I was way more aggressive sometimes than I should have been. But that wasn't the reason I stopped playing the sport of Europe.
The real reason was that on my 18th birthday my "present" was that after tests doctors realized I have a unique genetic disease called Marfan Syndrome. I wasn't able to play soccer anymore and I was devastated for a whole year, but God, after all, that was when my real journey began!
I remember the first time when I heard about American football. It was back in 2001 or 2002 when one of my friends told me about Jervis Johnson' s famous tabletop game, the Blood Bowl, and it took at least three years until I was able to watch a game on television. It was the Super Bowl in 2005 and it was the first time when we could watch American football here in Hungary without internet (which wasn't a common thing back then).
People say here, "First you love the team, then you love the sport," but there's something wrong with me because I fell in love with the sport instantly but couldn't find a team to root for until 2010. I remember that 49ers defense with the Cowboy and NaVorro Bowman. The team was bad but I couldn't care less.
In 2010 I finally found my team. Since then I've been a Faithful and always will be. My fiancé is a fan as well and we, together, managed to travel to the Bay to watch an otherwise pathetic Niners game when everyone struggled except George Kittle.
After I finished my carreer as a soccer player, there was one year filled with depression and suicidal thoughts. But the year after, something happened. My brothers went into a public tryout here in Hungary and not so long after that I went to one as well. That was the beginning of the best eight years of my life. Football gave me hope, a place where I felt I could belong, and new goals.
I wanted to push all my limits as far as I could. I've played more than a houndred games as a player, coached teams and earned MVP honors and league titles as a coach and as a player aswell. I retired twice and on my last game I managed to score just one last time. Football gave my life back to me, and when I played I never felt weak or sick. I felt alive and I truly loved every moment of it.
But I knew I couldn't play forever, and that's why I started to learn as much as possible about my beloved sport. I wanted to share the same passion I have with other people. I learned the basics from Hungarian coaches and advanced mechanics of the game from Americans and in the past years spent thousands of hours analyzing tapes and coaches films, reading articles and books until this exact moment. I think I'm ready to step into the next level but one thing is sure: I want to do that as a 49ers fan, because although my love for the sport is deep, it's nothing compared to my love for the San Francisco 49ers.