I miss football.
It’s the off-season and I just want to watch a game. Knitting for the Super Scarf Project helps, but . . . . there’s actually more that I miss.
Within the four-block neighborhood where I grew up, there were over twenty boys who regularly gathered to play either football or baseball. With two brothers in my family, I was always in the middle of both sports. I didn’t much like the fast throw that hit me square in on the forehead just above the bridge of my nose. But I really loved running across the grass to pull a ‘flag’ from someone’s back pocket as we played flag football. Bimbo, Butch, Curly, Eddie, Smeb, John . . . . and all the others are all much older now, like I am, but I can see their youthful, tough faces in my mind.
I’m sure it was more than the sports themselves. I know it was. It was the fresh air, the freedom we had to gather in Smalltownville, and the feeling of a carefree youth. Being a tom-boy had its benefits too - lot’s of boys!
Could it be that I miss my youth? Perhaps so, yet maybe not.
As I grew older, I still played football with the boys. One summer when I was in college (three in a row, really), I snagged a job for an event that happened at a military base over the course of several weeks. We were called ’volunteers’, but we got paid $5/day plus billeting and meals.
The work days were long, but there were still off-hours to contend with and I invariably got involved with a pick-up game of football. A lovely twist of fate found us picking up our football game with some military reservists stationed there at the same time.
My favorite pass wasn’t the one I caught, but the one that ‘caught’ me. I was the only girl in the game. This was over thirty years ago now – so more a novelty for a girl to play. I was told to go down for a pass. They wouldn’t suspect me as the intended receiver. (Sexist, I know, but I don’t hold any grudges. Novelty opens doors, sometimes.) I went down for the pass and got two – if you get my drift. I ran fast to where I needed to be, turned to face the quarterback, raised my hands and snagged the ball as it sailed right at me. I tucked, turned and was immediately enveloped in the giant wingspan of an off-duty soldier playing for the opposing team. I think I only went about chest high on him, but as he tackled me, he introduced himself. Pretty smooth. Still makes me smile.
Perhaps it’s the . . . . serendipity of football that I miss? Maybe a little more than my youth . . . .
I’ve been to some NFL games. I sat in the open stadium seating with snow falling – in Denver. It was a Broncos-Packers game. I sat on the 50-yard line . . . up a ways, but 50-yard line nonetheless.
I’ve been to a couple games in Minneapolis too – when the teflon roof was much newer than the one being repaired as I type. I even attended one game in the press box. It took a little doing because Press passes for football are much more difficult to come by than for the baseball that was played in the same stadium at the time. But I got to see Kenny Walker play: defensive lineman for the Denver Broncos – and deaf. From my vantage point in the press box, I could watch his interpreter work. Being fluent in American Sign Language myself, it was an extra interest for me and of course, I had a great view of the game, too. That was the time of Karl Mecklenberg and John Elway.
Maybe I miss #7 and maybe I miss the notion that someone with a hearing loss got some prime time attention in the sport that I love? Absolutely! And the Dome Dogs were delicious, too.
When Angel was still here with us, we would take our annual day-trip to the Kansas City Chiefs’ football training camp in Wisconsin. It’s not a terribly long drive from where I live. I had a pick-up truck then. We threw the lawn chairs in the back, a cooler filled with food and beverages, grabbed a camera and binoculars. I would pull up to the UW River Falls parking lot close to the field where they practiced, park with the bed of the truck facing the field. We would set up the lawn chairs in the truck bed, get out the binoculars and watch for free – all day. We never really got to know all the players because the Chiefs’ games weren’t televised here much, but . . . . it was live, up close and personal, football.
Perhaps it’s Angel that I miss? Absolutely . . . . but there’s more than that.
Today, I carried my lunch to my favorite window in the college dining room. I often sit there and look out over the city. Not today. There was a pick-up football game going on out on the side lawn. It’s been too cold here, probably, but it’s the first game I’ve noticed in a long time.
Yea!!! Football to watch just when I was missing it so much. There were quite a few guys playing, but several are just outside the frame below because I wanted a still photo of the ball in mid-air.
Oh to be young again . . . . . and not a college employee! I would have been out there in the middle of things, going long toward the street. With the coverage apparent in the photo above, I would have likely scored!
Maybe I just miss football – for all that it’s been in my life: fun, exercise, challenge, sport, boys, smiles, neighborhood, Smalltownville, Angel, the pigskin hanging in mid-air representing either success or failure depending on where it falls, road trips with my daughter, military ‘greetings’, lunchtime entertainment, frigid outdoor games in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, tubular steaks in a bun with mustard and relish, and now with silver starting to streak my hair . . . . knitting it all into scarves.
Oh . . . some of those memories won’t work so well in the blue and white of the Super Scarf Project, but it’s been keeping my needles clicking and my face set in a perpetual look of glee as I knit.
My thanks to the guys who tossed a few today out on the lawn! This old knitter is very, very grateful.