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Marconi family matriarch in the middle.
By Dave Oberhelman | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 11/7/2012 9:01 PM

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Jan Marconi is in a tizzy over this.

She was perfectly overjoyed the entire football season. On Friday nights she’d join her son and daughter-in-law at Wheaton North to watch her grandson J.D. play at Rexilius Field. The next day she’d go with another of her sons and another daughter-in-law to Duchon Field to see her grandson Joey play for Glenbard West.

“I haven’t missed a game for those kids, I don’t think, since they were freshmen,” Jan said.

She certainly won’t miss this one. The Falcons visit the Hilltoppers with a Class 7A semifinal berth on the line.

But Jan Marconi’s definitely in a tizzy.

“Am I ever,” she said.

She’s got football in her blood. She’s the wife of the late Joe Marconi, running back on the 1963 World Champion Chicago Bears, who died of leukemia in 1992.

“I was telling everyone at the last football game after West had won, I said: Oh, this does present problems now because I’m going to feel so hurt for the grandson who is losing. I’ll be happy for the other one, but it’s so hard.”

Her grandson, Joe Marconi, is a 6-foot, 190-pound linebacker for Glenbard West, the son of former Western Illinois player George Marconi. Joe’s first cousin is J.D., a 6-foot, 190-pound defensive back for Wheaton North. His dad, also a Joseph, played at Wisconsin. The boys were born five days apart.

In situations like this even the simple things become difficult. Where does Jan Marconi sit — home or visitors’ section? Switch sides at halftime?

“Maybe I’ll stick with one end zone,” she said.

“I have been pacing a lot. I’m always thinking, how am I going to handle this? What do I say?”

And what to wear?

A friend who sits with Mrs. Marconi at Glenbard West games, Beth Kane, is devising an outfit that will represent both Wheaton North (royal blue and white) and Glenbard West (forest green and white). It says here a little Falcons gold trim would be nice.

“I don’t know what it is yet,” Jan said, “but it will be something.”

One part of her ensemble won’t change. Around her neck Jan Marconi wears a pendant that matches the championship rings the players received, given to the wives of the 1963 Bears by George Halas. She said the pendant is a good-luck charm and makes her feel as if her own Joe, her late husband, were there with her.

Joe and J.D. would have made him proud.

“I keep thinking the same thing,” Jan said. “If he was only here to see this.”