I love the National Football League.
It’s what most guys dream about, and it’s fulfilling to live through the lives of outstanding athletes. I mean, everybody on that level is the king of the town they came from. Wherever they were born and raised, they were looked up to as role models and influencing the community without asking for the responsibility. Yeah, just think back to your playing days, whatever sport you participated in, damn right you gave it your all. It was fun while it lasted and you might be clinging to the memories that keep you interested.
Recently, I’ve gotten that spark to get back into playing form. My boys and I play every Sunday morning, before the first slate of games. This season came to life after our annual Fantasy Football Draft. We all selected the championship team, and if they didn’t feel that way they wouldn’t be in this competitive die-hard league! I’m still counting the days before attending my first Philadelphia Eagles’ home game. My favorite team since I was strapped in diapers. I’m not an obvious homer when it comes to football talk, although I might lean towards the topics leading into the Eagles. I will say this though, Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook formed the best offensive tag team I’ve ever seen, at least my favorite. That 2-man offense overachieved for years. Never understood the slew of venom held against McNabb, a Hall of Fame Quarterback in my book. His career speaks for itself doing more with less weapons, while Westbrook will probably be one of those Pro Bowl guys that you bring up occasionally. Hopefully he doesn’t become an afterthought like Priest Holmes, one of my other favorite running backs in recent-but-easily-forgotten memory.
Man, remember everything you put into practice, and you wanted to improve so you stayed discipline with drills and hit the weight room? After watching these gladiators battle on the grid iron, you see interviews of them stretching or getting iced. Some of you wanted to be a reporter or on sports radio. It must be awesome to give commentary and travel across the country. Or even wearing Footlocker gear and having the pressure of a referee. That can’t be easy.
And to get further sidetracked, imagine being a sports agent. The life of Jerry McGuire. It’s nonsense to choose the football movie you like the most. Some are better than others but i like them all. We’ve lived unique stories. Lately I’ve been thinking about why I dedicate so much time to something that doesn’t directly affect me. I could be spending precious time with my girlfriend, probably camping or skiing. Yes I ski, that’s all I’ve really been introduced to in terms of going to the snow. It’s fun, I wasn’t good at skateboarding, and I have zero interest in extreme sports. Just wasn’t the way I was built, but the NFL is my -ish! The roller-coaster that makes us feel like we belong to something, that male-bonding and ego patting. Shoot, can’t wait to get on a basketball court and run the gym like old times. If there was a ball involved, we handled our business.
There was a short stint that I got into coaching at my alma mater high school. Back after graduating and trying to teach these kids about life through the outlet of basketball. while balancing the irrationality and emotions of parents and athletic directors. Keeping a group of assorted coaches on the same page is a task in itself, let alone living up to a demanding schedule from supposedly, a side job. When that National Anthem came on EVERYTHING flashed through my mind. Staring at the flag in awe, blessed with the privilege to show off my talent. The eyes start to wander around the gymnasium and you start singling out faces in the stands, until you reach the moment of concentrating on the hardwood court. Standing tall with both feet firm on the floor. The chills in your body yet you manifest a poised and focused demeanor. Losing control, in the zone, game time!
I grew up a coach’s son, played basketball my entire life, helped my brother grow in the game and did a lot of great things that never ceased to entertain spectators. Always worked hard without witnesses, worked smart at practices, put on a show when the lights came on! Younger peers would show me love, but as I got older the people my age and even older treat me like royalty. Not to say I’m worth any more than the next guy, but it feels good to get recognition for things you put your heart and soul into. Ex-teammates reflecting on highlights outside of 24 Hour Fitness, grocery shopping at Vons with students gathering for a celebrity moment, or those kind words from a parent/teacher at a stop light. Heck, my father made a name for himself coaching more than my brother and I did as players, we would try to eat at a restaurant out of town just to enjoy the weekend on the low. Not that we were avoiding the community that we served and cared for, and we certainly appreciate the opportunity that we maximized, but things got to the point that we ran into someone everywhere we went.
I could be watching LeBron James or Rajon Rondo in their hand bands, and it reminds me of when I sported those. I was a team captain, in my warm-ups doing a behind-the-back layup. A few minutes before tip-off when the officials call the coaches and captains to the center of the court. Going through a checklist with emphasis on particular things on any given night. Stare my opponents in the eye because we’re prepared and we expect to win. Intimidation instilled, we fear no one.
Anyways, it’s still cool how the troops rally up Sundays mornings, even if we moved on from tackle to flag football. We’re still young and agile so why not? There’ll be a day when our body can’t do what our mind thinks we can. If that motivates you to get physically involved, then I’m glad to be of some service because I don’t like to waste anybody’s time. And since that includes my own I guess all good things come to an end. This is good because it’s real and original, that’s why this platform is here but most people ignore enjoyable thoughts for some reason. The default lens is shaded, faded, and jaded. I became a coach to share the positives, alter the perception for a better livelihood.
To Be Continued…