The Veteran had been an acquaintance of mine for some time prior to us becoming friends–I had met him through a nonprofit organization we both volunteered for.
We became fast friends, though, after working on an Internet-related project together. At the end of the project we had to go to DC to meet the foundation heads for whom we did the work.
I drove our team to the airport. When I opened my trunk to load everyone’s luggage, The Veteran noticed my football and was suddenly beaming.
"You play football," he said.
"Um-hm," I confirmed, not realizing that my deninition of playing was tossing the ball to my nephews while they ran routes. The Veteran actually meant playing football.
He subsequently invited me to happy hours he’d organized and, once, to a party at his house. It was there that I discovered what he actually meant when he asked if I played football.
I was listening in on a conversation between Surfer Dude and The Veteran. They were talking football and it became apparent that they played on the same team in an organized league. When that significant fact dawned on me, I literally raised my hand and asked how I could play.
The Veteran diplomatically avoided inviting me to play on their team (and for good reason, I later realized, because there are a ton of politics involved in organized football). Later that week The Veteran did, however, invite me to play some pickup football.
And, of course, I accepted. We played at Como Park on Minneapolis’ Northeast side. We played with a bunch of college kids from the nearby University of Minnesota. I wore jeans, smoked at the time, and was entirely winded shortly into the game. I hadn’t played an actual game of football since high school. But I slogged through the day and came back again and again and eventually worked myself into shape.
The Veteran, of course, had no such problems. He’d been playing football at least weekly since he was practically born. Thus, he is The Veteran.
From the looks of him, you might guess that he could play some football but nothing about his physical appearance suggests that he is an outstanding player in the way that some athlete’s mere physique suggests abundant talent.
The Veteran has a body as stout as an Irish beer–which makes sense because he’s of Irish descent and he loves beer. When he played tackle football, he excelled at bowling people over and that, too, makes sense because he looks like a power fullback.
The Veteran doesn’t have blazing speed but he’s faster than he looks. He usually doesn’t make astounding highlight reel catches, but he’s so sure-handed that he pretty much catches everything that’s thrown in his vicinity.
What makes The Veteran such a great football player is not so much his natural talent–of which he’s got plenty–but the abundance of experience which has taught him to master the details of the game. He knows when to put his hands out to the opposite side from which the ball is coming, for example, so as to convince the defender to cover the wrong side.
It is that experience that makes him an excellent quarterback, too. He reads denfenses well and knows where to put the ball so that it is out of reach of a defender.
Conveniently, The Veteran nickname applies to more than simply his football experience–it applies to his life experience as well, because though a relatively young man, few things surprise him.
The Veteran is married to Phone Assasin, which is a match made in football heaven because she’s a damn good football player herself; so not only do they have that in common, it’s happily not a source of conflict for them.