Friday, September 13, 2013


 I'm number 11. 
This is the closest to an action shot I ever got.

"A coulda been Glory Day"

    It shouldn’t be any secret that football is America’s number one sport. It’s got violence, action, violence and speed.

    Misguided people would suggest that baseball is the number sport. Obviously people get more of an opportunity to watch baseball, because there are162 games per season. That’s 480 hours waiting for a pitcher to throw the blasted ball and 6 hours of actual play.

An NFL team plays 16 regular season games. That amounts to a total of about 48 hours a season on the field. During a game, if a quarterback decided to rub on the ball before throwing it, he’d die at some point during the third quarter.

    I’ve made no secret of the fact that I played football in junior high and high school. I didn’t enjoy practice. I have no idea how many times I got my bell rung during practice. I used to get hot spots on my head. One area of my noggin would just turn warm. I assumed it was common. As were the constant headaches.

The games seemed worth it, though. So much fun. I can remember stuff that happened in games that were played 50 years ago. In fact, last night I dreamed about getting the chance to play football again. In the dream, Coach Sailor drove up and parked in my yard. He got out of his truck, walked over and asked if I wanted to suit up for the next Pasadena Eagles game. 

I thought that odd ‘cause I have a driveway, yet he parked on the lawn. What was he thinking?  Although, I was excited as all get out about the chance to play, I asked, why me? Coach explained that he wanted me to play in the hope I would write an article about the experience. I guess he felt he needed some good press.

What did I care? This was my chance to make up for a missed opportunity during the JV Green and White game in 1966. I have carried the disappointment of that game all these years. Begs the question, how can one be disappointed over a game that no one else remembers? Hey, I could teach a class on disappointment.

I played defense for most of the Green and White game, but during the forth quarter, I got to play quarterback. Coach told me every play to run. There were no pass plays. Talk about a boring offense.

During a timeout, I got this great idea for a pass play. I was going to run 34 bootleg, but instead of running around end, I was going to stop and throw a bomb across the field to McGraw in the end zone. There would be no one covering McGraw, because the defense knew we were just running the ball. 

I pulled McGraw to the side, and told him my idea. McGraw said, “No way! That play’s not even in the playbook. Coach will kill us!”

So, I did what Coach instructed. I kept the ball on the ground. My one chance to really shine, and I listened to McGraw. “McGRAW!” 

But, now the varsity Coach was giving me a chance to not disappoint myself. A chance to throw the bomb and create a better memory. That’s when it hit me. Clunk!

While my jersey number was “11” I am now 64.  I could take a pretty good hit back in 1966. And, I was so much faster than I am today. And, I could throw. There was a day when I could really throw the ol’ pigskin.

Now I’ve got a bad throwing arm, weak bones and I can’t run worth spit. I’d be laughed out of Eagle Stadium… which, incidentally, is now a strip mall.

I told Coach that I’d better not suit up. I’d get bad hurt and Kay would have to feed me through one of several tubes sticking up and in me. Coach didn’t say it, but I could definitely read “Weenie Man” in his expression. He drove out my yard and out of my dream, headed to the next person on his list of losers.

After this fascinating story, at least two of you wish to ask, “Mark, do you know how far it is to Tipperary?” No, that’s not it. The question is, “Do you think your odd behavior today is related to the number of times you got your bell rung playing football?”

To that I say, “Of horse snot!” I mean, “Of course not!” I’m perfectly normal for a 64 year old. I still know my timetables, the capital of Mississippi, and where I keep my underwear.  Given the chance, I’d go back and do the whole football thing again.

But, you might want to check back with me in another five years. If I appear at all confused about why the ear holes in my underwear are so big, I may have to rethink the whole football experience. – I am so blessed to still be able to joke about something like this.

End &

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