Tag Archives: sports

Wednesday Morning Ramblings – Thankful #10

I’m thankful for the opportunity to have played organized football as a young man.  Most former players would probably agree that there’s no greater sense of being alive than on the field in a game.  All of your senses are heightened, and on every single play, your physical abilities are tested against someone else’s.  There’s no way to explain it to non-players.  Like many of the greatest things in life, like becoming a parent for the first time, this experience is ineffable.  Unless you played, you simply can’t understand just how much fun it was.

Yes, it took a physical toll on my body.  My right knee is held together by scar tissue and wishes; my left shoulder has some nerve damage; from nowhere, my body sometimes reminds me of an old injury I had forgotten about.  But I wouldn’t trade the memories, experiences, and lessons earned on the field for a pristine body with no aches.  These physical ailments are just part of the price for wisdom and strength, and I gained both of these from having played the game for eight years.

At least once a week, I dream about being back on the field.  Usually, I’m at practice, preparing for an upcoming game.  Sometimes, I’m in the middle of an important game.  Regardless, I always wake with a yearning to be a teenager again, back out on the field with my chinstrap buckled tight and my teeth clamped down on my mouthpiece.  I lay awake for a few moments, savoring the dream, reliving the hits I got to dish out on ball carriers and quarterbacks.  There’s always a mix of joy and sadness after I awaken from this dream.  Happiness that I got to experience it.  Sadness that those days are gone forever.

I’m thankful for my experiences as a football player, for my coaches, for my teammates.  I loved being part of the game as I’ve never loved any other experience, and I will cherish my memories for as long as I draw breath.

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Monday Morning Ramblings

I’ve been thinking about the $75,000 fine imposed on James Harrison for his hits on two Browns receivers a week ago.  Now, I’m all for player safety, and I agree that helmet to helmet shots need to be phased out of the game.  Of all people, I understand the long-term effects of a severe concussion.  However, I have a problem with the hypocrisy of fining Harrison for his hits and not holding other people accountable as well.

For instance, the offensive coordinator designed a pass route that brought his 190 lb. receiver into the zone of the 260 lb. defensive MVP who is known for his unreal strength (I think he benches nearly 600 lbs.) and nasty disposition.  Instead of penalizing Harrison for doing what he’s been trained to do, which is deliver punishment to offensive players who enter his territory, why doesn’t the NFL fine the coordinator for putting his player in harm’s way?  Maybe the offense should design pass routes that keep their receivers matched up with defensive backs.

Also, the quarterback who threw the pass should have seen Harrison lurking in that zone.  Maybe if his throw had been more accurate, the receiver would’ve had more of an opportunity to protect himself.  Shouldn’t the one who threw the bad pass be just as accountable as the one who delivered the blow?  If QBs had to pay fines for nearly getting their WRs killed, maybe they would be a little more careful where they put the ball.

My point is this: Football is a brutal sport.  Everyone who has ever played the game is aware, or should be, that on any given play, their body could be maimed forever.  Defensive guys are by nature a mean-spirited and nasty lot.  We enjoy hearing the groans of pain when we smash into an offensive player’s body.  That’s what they get for thinking they could get by us.  No amount of legislation or enforcement can remove the instinct to inflict pain.  For at least 32 years, season after season, the NFL has tilted the rules in favor of the offenses, trying to make more exciting games with more points and more passing.  At some point, the league needs to accept that as long as football is a contact sport with pads, there will be serious injuries, including blows to the head.

I’m not saying that helmet to helmet blows should be legal or that players shouldn’t be fined for cheap shots.  What I’m saying is that the offense needs to be just as accountable for these hits as the defense.  If offensive coordinators and QBs shared in the blame for putting their receivers into prone positions, the defensive guys would have fewer opportunities to deliver these blows, but I guarantee that in the hypocrisy that is the NFL League Office, there will be no attempt to rein in the offensive side of the ball.

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Monday Afternoon Ramblings

While I’ve got a minute between classes, I wanted to share my experience at Homecoming last Friday.  I don’t go to many high school football games because it always makes me miss being on the field too much, but my niece was in the court again this year.  Last year, I had to miss it because of my brutal schedule, and while my schedule is still tough this year, I felt like I needed to be there for her.

I hadn’t been to a game at Burke-Toney Stadium since they installed the artificial turf, and I have to admit that the field is pretty nice.  Back in the day, the grass was always maintained fairly well, but now, the artificial stuff is just amazing to see.  The new Jumbotron on the scoreboard is pretty nice, too.  Now, the stadium has the feel of a small college, and it’s a pretty impressive sight.  The old Burke-Toney, with the block wall surrounding the entire stadium, felt like an old fortress, and it had an intimidating feel because of the grittiness, but this new place is intimidating on a completely different level.

Being there brought back a lot of memories, mostly good but some painful.  I played six seasons of football on that field.  The last one was the most difficult because of my accident.  The coaches wouldn’t play me because of my injury, and standing on the sidelines and watching guys not as talented get pushed around was hard for me.  I wanted to help my team but couldn’t, and every time I’m at a game, I feel like I have unfinished business.  Maybe one day eventually that feeling will go away.

I want to write more about the night because there were a couple of very positive things that happened, but right now, I have to get to class.  I’ll try to write more later.

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