This past Saturday, two groups in our church – the communities of the Upper East Side (woo-hoo) and Long Island City – collided in an epic match of flag football. I played, despite the following facts working against me:
- I’m small.
- I’m 32.
- I’ve played football about 5 times in my life.
My football career had a promising start in elementary school. On the playground, I played quarterback, though I had no idea what that meant. I remember throwing a touchdown pass and not knowing that was a good thing until my team started celebrating around me. It was all downhill from there.
Later, our PE class offered two options: football and square dancing. I chose to dosey-do with the girls. That would’ve been a great choice if
- I were good-looking.
- We were old enough to like the opposite sex.
Unfortunately, all of the guys who played football developed their ballin’ skills while I only got better at being square. This is what most likely led to The Kickoff Incident:
We were playing football in PE, and there was no square dancing to save me. The opposing team kicked the ball off. Kickoffs are the most chaotic plays in football, where the ball sails high into the air, and the teams collide with startling speed and force.
As I watched the ball start its descent, I noticed that it was unfortunately falling in my direction. Knowing that this was my chance to turn my athletic reputation around and earn the respect of guys not just in my school, but the entire school district, I steeled myself to catch the ball while a mob of my peers were sprinting downfield to stop me.
At the last moment, I realized I was off the hook as the ball would go over my head. Instead of running it back for a TD, it was up to me to heroically block for whoever caught the ball. No one did.
It was either a gust of wind or poor depth perception, but as I prepared to block, I felt a sudden THWOMP! on the top of my head. The football had nailed me squarely on the noggin. I don’t remember what happened after that, not because I was knocked out. I was just shocked that that happened to me with everyone watching. Too bad my PE coaches didn’t videotape their classes; that would’ve been an easy $10,000 from AFV. After that, my playing days were pretty rare and uneventful.
This Saturday, Cool Mum and Cool Baby flew to Florida for the week, so I hit the big game. I didn’t plan to play and talked with my friends on the sideline. But I’m a competitive guy, and I couldn’t resist the draw of a game being played. I put my umbrella down and jumped in.
It was a great time to bond with people in a way that I don’t often get to. I made a couple of tackles and got burned for a touchdown once. No embarrassing incidents, too – if you don’t count me being frogged in the leg by someone’s knee as I grabbed their flag. Even though that someone was a girl, I’m not ashamed to say that I’m still gimpy from the collision. Contrary to popular belief, girls’ knees are no softer than guys’.
Much to the sorrow of the athletic community as a whole, I’ll probably hang up my LL Bean hiking sneakers (I don’t have cleats). It was a good run, with one high followed by plenty of lows. But I have no regrets – each of those games have contributed to the complexity of Cool Dad:
- That touchdown pass instilled confidence that even small dudes could play big.
- Getting bonked in the head with a football scrambled my brain just enough to become a quirky but decent blogger.
- I’m now friends with the young lady who kneed me in the quadricep.
Hopefully, Cool Baby will be spared the same football fate. Actually, maybe we should just keep him off the field altogether. Anyone have a little girl that needs a promenade partner?