Football — the sport of champions

Published 6:42 pm Sunday, August 24, 2008

By Staff
Seeing my husband played football in high school and college (he never made the big-time), you’d think I might understand and appreciate the game — but I don’t.
What I see is a mass of male humanity in one color uniform determined to maim and bloody another bunch of guys in another color uniform.
Apparently it’s a given that if you play football you’re going to end up with bum knees, but broken bones are few and far between (although my husband broke his nose). However, blood is an accepted part of the game — maybe that’s why so many football teams suit up in red uniforms.
I’m afraid I’m a football failure. Besides, the game shouldn’t be called football; it should be called feetball.
I can identify a football: it’s an inflated leather ball tapered at both ends and almost impossible for me to catch and hang onto. Whoever thought up the football had a demented brain.
Oh, I know, football experts will explain to me that there is good reason for the shape of the football, but I’ve never understood what it is. I know a football is called a pigskin, which indicates the ball is, indeed, made of the skin of a swine or the leather made of it.
Is this accurate? Are all footballs made of the skin of a swine? Now swine are any stout-bodied, short-legged mammals with thick bristly skin and a long mobile snout; swine also are contempable people. Which variety of swine are footballs made of, if, indeed, they are made of skin or leather from the swine at all?
And I understand about the goalpost, which is just a pair of uprights with a cross bar. Every once in a while, a player will attempt to kick the ball through the goalpost, but it must also go over the crossbar to score.
But what determines who and why a player gets to kick the ball through the goalpost is beyond my comprehension.
I even grasp what is meant by “third down and five to go” — at least I understand the third down part of it, but five what to go?
Scrimmage sounds like a way to prepare eggs and off-sides are pan-fried potatoes to go with ‘em.
The terms hand off, back field and receiver may be football lingo, but not to me. A hand off is giving away an ugly piece of clothing to someone who admired it, the back field is where my dad planted corn last year and, as anyone knows, a receiver is the part of a telephone that sounds come through.
Some times a player will try a punt, which any right-minded person will tell you is a flat-bottomed boat propelled by a pole; knowledgeable people advise that football players wear cleats, and I thought that was the name of Clint Eastwood in one of his western films, as far as the right guard, I know for sure that this is the deodorant all football players should be using following a game and after a shower.
As for the other positions on a football team, they are so prosaic: right and left tackles, guards, halfbacks and ends — but only one center, quarterback and fullback. Of course, I have to ask: If we put two quarterbacks together, does that add up to one halfback?
I have pointed out to my husband numerous times that if every football player did the job assigned to him, there wouldn’t be much of a game. When the tackles take down the opposing players, that clears the way for the ball carrier to waltz his way down the field to the goalline for a touchdown every time.
Occasionally during the football season I’ll ask my husband to explain some totally-obscure football tactic to me. It makes sense at the time, but it’s gone by tomorrow. Besides, he always manages to remind me that he played against the yet-to-be-famous Lou Groza when they both were in high school.
I think I enjoy the antics of the officials as much as I do the football players grappling for the ball. Dressed in their spiffy black and white striped shirts, ball caps and knee-length pants (called knickers), uniforms that rarely get messed up, they wave their arms, make bodily gestures, blow their whistles and some times do what appear to be little dance steps.
If I could get all the officials lined up together, they could give some competition to the dancers at Radio City Music Hall.
Or perhaps I’m missing the boat and should give my attention to another game, like golf. My husband used to be a pretty good golfer (never made the big-time), but surely he could explain a lot about this sport to me. It can’t be as complicated as football.
Yes, I really think I’d like giving my attention to golf — then I could yell, “Batter up!”