I believe I’ve mentioned before the fact that football is a wonderful sport. It’s a great game to watch and an even better game to play but whether you’re a spectator or a player, it shares with baseball one important trait: It’s a fantastic game to talk about.
I am a player (no, not a play-ah, a play-er).
More to the point, however, football is most fun to talk about when the subject is your own plays. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. It’s not that it’s no fun talking about your teammates plays; it is, just as it’s fun talking about your favorite professional team’s plays. But it’s true that it’s the best talking about plays in which you excelled.
So after this longish introduction, indulge me as I talk in glowing terms about my own plays tonight.
I play in a city football league called City Sports Connection, or CSC for short. They organize a handfull of different leagues for a variety of sports and your fee pays for the facilities and the referees.
Today we played a team called W.M.D. and pretty much blew them out 33-14. The game was well called by the referee, who gave us every minute’s worth of the game. That’s not always the case. Many refs will speed up games to the point where you almost feel as if you’ve been abducted by aliens several time during the game and you have this vague sense of missing time.
So anyway, at some point early in today’s game, as we were on defense, I commented to my teammate about how long the game was lasting.
"That’s because you’ve already accomplished your goals," Delicious replied.
He’s right, there always does seem to be more time when you’ve done what you set out to do. My goal for every game is just to play well, but I always want to score at least one touchdown. Delicious was referring to the touchdown I’d scored earlier in the game.
Our quarterback, T, had sent me on a stop-and-go pattern down the right sideline and the guy covering me bit hard when I stopped and T pump-faked.
I’ve been nursing a groin pull for several months now and I was afraid T might put it up there too far for me to catch up with at the reduced speed with which I was running. That wasn’t a problem. T dropped the ball perfectly over my left shoulder and all I had to do was reach out my hands and let the ball fall softly into them.
But that wasn’t the end of my on-field heroics. Sometimes you have games where you just catch fire, and when that happens, the breaks seem to fall your way, too. It was like that today.
Later in the game, we’d advanced to midfield and T wanted to take a shot at a score. He sent me on a crossing route in the back of the end zone but a defender was perfectly positioned to pick it off at the goal line. The ball was thrown to the middle of the field and just above the defender’s head, who reached up with both hands for what looked like a sure pick. But the ball bounced off his hands, over his head, and hung there, suspended in air, just as I was crossing behind him. I plucked the ball out of the air for a touchdown.
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
On the extra point, T sent me on a crossing pattern from the right side across the back of the end zone. As I was crossing the middle of the field, a window opened up between defenders, and T gunned it in there. I’d already passed the center of that window, so the ball was to my right as I was running. I had to turn my body so that my back was facing the direction I was previously running in order snag the ball, which I did. The only problems was that both of my feet were just out of bounds. CSC rules require that you need only one foot in bounds for a completion. I got neither foot in bounds and if I’d only angled my body as I was coming down with the ball, I’d have had the catch and the extra point. That was the best play of the game I didn’t make, because it was a hard catch.
We’d racked up 26 points and had the ball with about a minute to go in the game, so we just wanted to run out the clock with some short, middle-of-the-field passes. T threw a couple of passes that moved us to about their twenty yard line. On the next play, T was sort of lounging around in the backfield looking for a reciever when he spotted The Veteran at perhaps the one yard line and he gunned the ball.
Problem was, I didn’t see The Veteran as I was jogging across the middle of the field. But I did see the ball and I thought it was for me. I didn’t quite get there in time but I was close enough to get my right hand on it as both myself and a defender converged on the ball. The ball glanced off my hand and tipped up and over the defender’s back. I reached out my hand in an attempt to keep him from intercepting the ball but I managed to bring it in off his back with my left hand for a touchdown instead.
I felt a little guilty about it because though we weren’t trying to, it did run up the score. I basically just reacted and managed to come down with the ball. But still, it was a touchdown, and I like touchdowns.
It was one of those games, too, in which everyone contributed in a meaningful way, so there were smiles all around amongst my teammates.
I’d played on a team with the quarterback who played for W.M.D. The guy has a gun for an arm and knows exactly what he wants to do in the huddle because he can read defenses–obviously, great traits for a quarterback.
He does, however, have an annoying habit of hazing players who are new to his team, as Delicious and I discovered when we once played on his team. He won’t throw to you until you pass his muster.
Now, I sympathize with quarterbacks because they need to not only play the game and play it well, but they’ve also got to manage the egos of their teammates and, if they’re fair, keep track of ball distribution so that each of their teammates have enough touches. And I’m not saying there wasn’t a bit of ego involved with me, as well. But still, I didn’t pay sixty bucks for someone to deliberately not throw to me.
So, as I told Delicious after the game, it was especially sweet scoring three touchdowns against the quarterback who wouldn’t throw to me. Sorta a "See what you coulda done if you’d thrown the ball my way?"