Unusual goal line of yuccas made its points

Published 5:14 pm Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Before we know it, football season will be here.

There will be plenty of football games at the prep, college and professional level to view, either in person or on by way of television. There will be plenty of backyard games, too — not to mention a few games in front yards and side yards.

Oh, yes! Those childhood games played after school and on weekends were the best.

I especially recall playing football on our corner lot at the intersection of Montclair Road and LaSalle Street in Pensacola, Fla. Why do those games come to mind? That’s easy to answer: because the west-end goal line was a row of yucca plants. That’s right, a row of yucca plants — with those thorny ends on each leaf.

Passing over those yucca plants for a touchdown was not much of a problem. Try rushing for a touchdown past yucca plants and a swarming defense. If a defender didn’t hit you before or as you crossed the goal line on a run, a yucca plant would. Get my point? Actually, it would be getting the yucca plant’s point — usually somewhere in a leg, arm or, on occasion, in the buttocks.


Sometimes one has to bleed a little for a touchdown.

Of course, the yucca plants came into use when they were used to shield one’s self from defender. Sometimes it was a defender who felt the sting of the yucca plant’s needle-point leaf instead of the runner. Yucca plants made great offensive linemen, but they couldn’t pull and block like a pulling guard could do. They didn’t have to do that to get their points across (pun intended).

I and my cousin Randy used to throw darts into each other’s legs to see who could stand such torture the longest. Hey, when you are 10 years old, throwing darts into each other’s legs made sense and helped pass a slow afternoon. So, a goal line made of yucca plants was no threat.

Although the yucca plants took us out of the game on occasion, we never took a yucca plant out of a game of football. Some yucca plants were injured, of course, but they recovered and had great careers.

I continue to wait for that third yucca plant from the right to be drafted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. It could have stopped Jim Brown, Gayle Sayers and Barry Sanders on any given Sunday.

As for playing football in cow pasture, that’s another story for another day. And that’s no bull. Well, maybe just a little.

Mike Voss is the senior member of the newsroom at the Washington Daily News.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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