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Football associations and loves

Friday 1/12/24

On a hockey history discussion board, I saw where people were listing things about the game that stuck with them in ways that were special to them. A very personal thing. I thought I'd do a version of these associations on here for the various sports. A romantic form of insight, perhaps, speaking to the past and the present, that which was and that which remains, and also my inner workings.

I'm going to begin with football, including the NFL, college, and neither. One will know what is what. So here we go...

Playing tackle football with your friends. Looking forward to it during the school day. Perhaps picking out teams at lunch or on the bus. The smells of autumn in the air. Someone's backyard with fall's special brand of sunlight coming through the trees. All of those acorns underfoot. Landing on them. Sliced up pieces of leaves from a late-season lawn-cutting. The aroma of the exposed dirt in October after your knee ripped up a bit of grass. Not wanting to throw a pick for your "stats." Always desirous of hitting on a long pass.

John Elway throwing against the grain of his body.

Wide shoulder pads.

Terrifying, almost mythical teams like the 1985 Bears.


Your first college football game as a freshman.

Seeing an eighty-year-old alum hoist a beer at a morning tailgate.

3000 yard passing seasons when they were hard to come by.

Snow games.

Purple People Eaters.

Orange Crush.

Ray Guy.

Jack Lambert.

A mint Nerf football; so mint--as though that could be qualified--that you wonder if you could use it without needing to remove the plastic.

A chipped Nerf football.

A Nerf football that had been left out all winter. Might it still be used? Will it drain? That off-white sodden ghost color of weathered Nerf.

Wishing to kick the ball over the swing set monkey bars and establish yourself as a legit field goal kicker.

Trying to coerce your sister into being your holder.

Charlie Brown's prolix starting run for the football he never gets to kick on account of that darn Lucy and what is either misapplied trust or enthusiasm that gets the better of him or is computed as an undertaking worth the risk just in case it ever works out.

John Hannah in glasses, as if he'd be reading Wallace Stevens soon now that the game was over and twelve men had been pancaked.

The Heisman when someone from some non-powerhouse school could win it and basically achieved the status of "heroic sports underdog for life."

When Army and Navy were titans of the sport.

Football stadiums from a century ago.

Bands instead of piped-in sound.

F. Scott Fitzgerald sending letters with strategies to the Princeton coach.

When sacks were all the rage in the 1980s and possibly the coolest stat in all of sports.

Batted passes. Even better: batted passes that the lineman who batted the pass then picks off.

Blood and mud on formerly all-white uniform pants.

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