Players came and went, so did parents and coaches and athletic directors and student managers and band members.
Peter “Doc” Chodoff was always there, no more than an arm’s length away on tailgate row every single game day of my adult life, holding court from a folding chair. That’s the thing I will always remember about Doc and Temple football. He was always there, always in that folding chair, waiting to move into the stadium about a half-hour before each game.
He seldom remained silent.
Most of the time, he would say something about this road trip or that road trip that he made or make a statement about a coach or a player that was usually on the mark. Or he would say something funny, which he said a lot.
Always from that Cherry and White tailgate, or camping, chair. He was always there, surviving coaches, players, parents, other fans.
Now he isn’t, having passed away. He lived a full life, but I wanted him to live until 114.
Whenever I see one of those chairs, I will think of Doc. If they ever give an award in his name, it should be for a long-time fan, a season ticket-holder, who has been there through the downs as well as the ups because that defined Doc. When I tried to call him Mr. Chodoff, he admonished me to call him Pete or Doc. I thought Doc was preferable.
One day during the Steve Addazio Era he grabbed my arm and said, “Mike, I just want to tell you that you have a first-class blog.” (All you had to do last year was ask him what he felt about Addazio and he would go on an invective-filled rant that would make Richard Pryor blush. He loved Al Golden, because he knew Golden gave Temple what he promised.)
I was on Cloud 9 for a few weeks after that because his credibility was already through the roof with me. When I sprained my knee (torn meniscus) in 2007 playing basketball, he even gave me some solid medical advice about who I should see and what I should do on my rehab and how long before it would be before I was playing basketball again.
As usual about everything else, he was right.
I sat behind him only once and it was during a game in the Bobby Wallace Era when I was lucky enough to score seats upstairs. Temple was getting the snot beat out of it, as it usually did in those days, and the subject came around to freshman quarterbacks. He turned to me and said: “Why is it that you see every school in the country with a better quarterback than Temple?”
Then Adam DiMichele came along and I reminded Doc about that statement and he laughed and said, “Well, it was about time.”
When I could not find an answer about Temple football on Google, I knew I could find it from Doc. Last year, someone on this site asked why they built Temple Stadium so far from the main campus. I could not find the answer, so I asked Doc.
“They were planning to move the entire campus to Wyncote and Cheltenham, so they put the stadium there first,” he said. “After they built the stadium, they changed their mind about the campus.”
Thanks, Doc. I did not know that.
When Temple football was threatened, he put his money where his mouth was to save it. He was always before everyone else, stayed through two Dark Ages (the 50s and the post-Bruce Arians’ Era), and preached that things could and would get better.
They did, as much because of him as anyone else. His passing reminds us all that life is too short and treasure those who have added to your life experience. I always looked forward to Saturday mornings because of people like him.
Doc Chodoff certainly made Saturday mornings for me and for many fellow Temple fans. We all share a deep pain today knowing no one can fill that folding chair quite like he did. If Temple football had 100 Chodoffs, the new stadium would have been built by now and it would be 40,000 seats, not 30,000, with all of the amenities it should have.
There is only one Doc and that’s why this is a very sad day for Temple football and all of us who love it.