image courtesy of trackemtigers.com
I played football for one season. It was 7th grade, and your author had played soccer every fall from the age of 7 — but was up for trying a new sport one year. I didn’t try out for the school football team, and instead played city league ball. There were four teams (each complete with its own cheerleading squad), and I played for the Packers.
I remember amazingly little about the season. But there was this one coach with really bad breath — I mean chronic halitosis of the worst kind. The guy ate sour-cream-and-sewage flavored Chex mix before every practice, and brushed his teeth with eggs. His breath was so bad that, had I been smarter, I would’ve purposely played mediocre ball so as to not be lectured for poor play OR congratulated for good play.
The other coach I remember was named Jack — or maybe his son was named Jack? But he dressed and looked a whole lot like Steve Spurrier — visor, clipboard, and all. I don’t really remember any of the players or much else about the season, other than my role on the team (and that I liked speaking with Jack Spurrier much better than with dragon-whisperer). I played defensive tackle on the left side and tight end on offense. Pretty much I tried to tackle the quarterback and occasionally ran the reverse. I also ran a lot of pass routes, but 7th grade football isn’t generally considered to showcase an electrifying, through-the-air style of play. I’m not sure there was ever actually even a pass thrown. I had four sacks on the year, no touchdowns, and happily returned to the soccer pitch the following year.
It’s not that football wasn’t fun; it’s just that, at the end of every game, I felt like we’d not done much. I wasn’t sure if the games were too short or if running routes for nonexistent passes just wasn’t my thing. I later realized the problem: there really wasn’t a whole lot of football in football games. The majority of our time was spent in a huddle, calling plays, or lining up for a new play. Soccer was a sport where I could run and play for every minute of the game; there was always something happening — and I didn’t have to wear a view-obstructing helmet or anything called a butt pad. So I returned to the gentleman’s sport.
But I have nothing against football. College football is actually my favorite sport to watch — in person and on television. I love it. These days I’m staying up until 3:00 am on Sunday mornings just to read the play-by-play of Auburn games scrolling across the bottom of my computer screen. [I love Auburn football.] And I enjoyed playing intramural football every year I was in college (and even a few after I graduated). So I don’t have anything against the sport, but I am calling it like I see it. It’s kind of a slow game.
This little chart shows what I’m talking about:
But now on to more important things, and the reason I’m posting today. In the newest issue of Sports Illustrated, there’s a great article on Auburn quarterback, Cam Newton — your next Heisman Trophy winner. The article: Catch Cam If You Can (You Can’t).
This is the most interesting paragraph in the article, which explains that Newton’s first choice was Mississippi State — though he gave his father final say in the decision:
Last December the choice of which college to attend came down to two schools—Auburn and Mississippi State. Newton preferred Starkville because of his close relationship with Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen, who had been Newton’s offensive coordinator at Florida. But Cecil thought his son should choose Auburn, which had an experienced offensive line (four starters were returning) and was only a two-hour drive from Atlanta. Newton let his father make the final decision, and a few days before Christmas, while sitting at the dinner table in his brother’s house in Jacksonville, Cecil Sr. uttered two words that would radically alter the college football landscape: “It’s Auburn.”
Thanks, Cecil. And tough luck, Bulldogs. Maybe next time.
Oh, and in addition to being obedient to his father, Cameron Newton gives back to his community… despite his incredibly busy schedule and high profile. Here’s a great article on Newton’s involvement with a local elementary school: Newton Giving Back.
Newton for Heisman. And coaches, have you considered breath mints?