Back in the 7th grade I played on my first school football team. I knew absolutely nothing about the game, but being a “big ol’ boy” (as they say in the South) I think my parents didn’t want me getting much bigger. They believed football would get me into good shape and I was certainly hoping that my mom would no longer have to order my pants from the “husky” section of the Sears Christmas catalogue.
I mean, whoever thought up that phrase for boy’s pants – HUSKY? Now there’s a real confidence booster!
Other than being HUSKY, I brought nothing to the game; I wasn’t agile, I knew no rules … I was a walking paper weight.
But, there I was on the field, listening to our coach, who was 3.5 years older than Methuselah (about a million in dog years). His name was Mr Jeff – and he was telling us about THE ONSIDE KICK.
I’d never heard of such a thing.
Apparently, when the opposing team kicks off to you – if you don’t catch the ball, they will! And, with the onside kick, the ball may actually come to a walking paper weight …
… in other words, a HUSKY dumb lineman
… that would be, can you hear me? ME!
Honest to goodness, the other guys lined up on the ball and kicked what was supposed to be an onside kick …
Alas, I’m getting ahead of myself.
MR JEFF: THE BALL … MAY COME TO YOU … ONE OF YOU LINEMEN … DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RUN WITH THE BALL! FALL ON IT! DO YOU HEAR ME?!
Us: Yes sir!
MR JEFF: SO … AGAIN … WHAT DO YOU LINEMEN (that’s what he called us husky paper weights) – WHAT DO YOU LINEMEN DO IF THE BALL COMES TO YOU??
Us: Fall on it!
MR JEFF: FALL ON IT – HOLD ON TIGHT … AND DO NOT TRY TO RUN WITH THE BALL! DO. NOT. MOVE!
Well, wouldn’tchya know, that ball came to me.
It’s one of those memories that’s burned into my mind: a husky 12 year old boy, without a clue, staring as that ball was kicked … a line drive (perfectly) right to me!
The Good News? I caught it.
Now, for the rest of the story …
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