Saturday, September 15, 2012

NOT SO GLORY DAYS


Here will be my last football post for the moment. I said in my last post that if you’ve played high school football you’ve had some glory days.  Well, you’ve also probably had some that were not so glorious. I had one such night against a team whose name I can’t remember now. You might think I’ve repressed the name because of the humiliation, but, if so, then why do I remember every detail of the actual humiliation?

Much like Huntsville had their Sasquatch halfback, this team had a Goliath. His position was wide receiver. You may remember that I often played cornerback, and I was playing it again this night. As luck—or the Devil—would have it, Goliath was on my side of the field and I was assigned to cover him. I was about five feet, eight inches at the time. He was at least a foot taller.  Do you have any idea how much a “foot” is when you’re talking about receivers versus cornerbacks in football?  I do.

The other team’s quarterback didn’t even have to be accurate. He just heaved the ball up in the air and let me and Goliath go up for it. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Goliath beat me out for the ball most of the night. He scored four touchdowns right over me. He caught other passes in between the TDs.

By the time Goliath was working on touchdown number three, I’d given up playing him legally. I was climbing all over him with every pass, and, let me tell you, it was a climb. I pulled his jersey, even tried tripping him. Nothing worked.

The referees must have felt bad for me. They didn’t even call any penalties on me, though I earned a few.  Or maybe, in the reflected light of all Goliath’s awesomeness, they just didn’t notice me hanging around his waist like a monkey straight out of the barrel.

The only consolation was that Goliath lined up one time on the other side of the field from me. The cornerback there was a friend, but I’m ashamed to say that I felt a little relief when he didn’t do any better than I did. They only threw one pass to him on that side—Goliath’s fifth touchdown of the night.

I remember coming off the field after Goliath’s fourth TD pass. He caught it one handed because I was attached like a long, skinny leech to his other arm. There were tears of frustration in my eyes. None of my teammates would look at or talk to me.  I understood.

But Coach Tadlock came over to me. He didn’t yell.  He didn’t get in my face. He slapped me on the shoulder pads. “Keep doing the best you can,” he said. That was one thing about Coach Tadlock. He knew when you were giving it your all, and if that’s what you were doing and were still unsuccessful, then he didn’t blame you for it. I’ll always remember that about him.

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26 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Everything I know about high school football I learned from the TV series Friday Night Lights. One of the great TV series.

SQT said...

What high school kid would stand a chance against a 6'8" Goliath? The other team had to know that. Do you know if he went on to play college or pro ball? I'd be curious to see if his size was an advantage against the real deal.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Good one, Charles. Hey, that's not humiliation. It's reality. I'm glad your coach could recognize it. On my team I was a defensive tackle, and if teams would have been throwing down field on us at will, our coach would have been tearing the defensive linemen out a new one. Your coach probably knew the other team's quarterback was getting all day to throw, and that was definitely not your fault. We had a cornerback named Wayman Newell on our team, and if he hit you while catching a pass, you would trip and fall down rather than catch another one. :)

Ron Scheer said...

Coke-bottle lens glasses and expensive bridgework kept me off the playing field. But my friend, an all-sports athlete, said that losing games gave him more perspective years later, when he was involved in campus politics at the college where he taught.

X. Dell said...

So, he scored his fifth touchdown lining up on the other side of the line? You make it sound as though you were boring him.

BTw, your coach sounds like a very wise man.

Snowbrush said...

Rank humiliation to you is, I feel guilty for saying, grand humor for me. This is worthy of publication.

Travis Cody said...

Sometimes the other guy is just bigger and better, and the only thing you can do is your best. Those times are probably better for learning what you're made of than the successful times. You either keep going back for more, or you quit.

The great games I remember easily because I had a lot of fun. But I also remember the times I screwed up, and that I worked harder and didn't give up.

Vesper said...

Or maybe, in the reflected light of all Goliath’s awesomeness, they just didn’t notice me hanging around his waist like a monkey straight out of the barrel. - This is a great image! I'm still laughing!

And your coach... yeah, a good, wise man.

Cloudia said...

'monkey straight out of the barrel '- lol

Yes, those memories survive;

"The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton."
Arthur Wellesley


Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
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Charles Gramlich said...

Patti, I wish I would have been able to watch that series regularly.

SQT, I don't know. I bet he did play small college ball at least, but probably not pros.

Bernard, I was known as a pretty hard hitter but this guy was just too overwhelming to handle.

Ron, that could be true. It helps you not to give up when you seem to be losing. We pulled out a few that were close.

X-Dell, I probably was.

Snowbrush, I was hoping for a smile. It's funny in retrospective. 35 years will do that for you. :)

Travis Cody, I remember a few really good and satisfying victories, but I think I remember the hard losses better.

Vesper, yeah, he was a good guy, our coach. I always liked him.

Cloudia, that which survives!

laughingwolf said...

good effort, charles... excellent coach

the walking man said...

You almost make me wish I had played football. hahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahaah that will be the funniest thing I write today.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, I hope Goliath reads this! I think touchdowns are equivalent of goals in non-American football. I played a lot of football in school and in the seafront colony where I grew up though I don't remember scoring too many goals, always found it a tough proposition.

Charles Gramlich said...

Laughingwolf, I think coach might have been a little too much of a good guy to be really successful, but he was definitely a memorable fellow.

Mark, it wasn't bad, wasn't bad.

Prashant, the same general thing. It's how you get the points to win, and he got plenty all on his own.

Christina said...

That's a really cool memory of your coach.

I was never good at sports, so I give you kudos for being out on that field.

Oscar said...

Great and funny post, Charles. I'm still laughing.

Charles Gramlich said...

Christina, Yeah, I've thought of him often with fondness over the years.

Oscar, glad you enjoyed my pain. ;)

Rick said...

He sounds like a great guy, Charles, and a real inspiration.

Charles Gramlich said...

Rick, a good character as well, and one I need to write about sometime.

Chris said...

I didn't play high school football, I played soccer. I don't have any humiliations to report, thankfully.

Erik Donald France said...

My coach, Mr. Wallace, was not so wise. He tended to flatten random players on the fly, though mostly just during practice. During games he mostly screamed his head off.

Charles Gramlich said...

Chris, or you've repressed them! :)

Erik, Our assistant coach was like that. what an ass. But at least he didn't have complete control

jodi said...

Charles, I was a cheerleader for the football team for 3 years, and then dated various players for 3 more years. I endured a million games with my Dad and now my son at the t.v. and I STILL only get the rudimentary details!!! Your post is cute and funny tho...

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

Long live the Coach Tadlocks of this world.
And you painted quite the visual. I was smiling the whole time I read. :)


Charles Gramlich said...

Jodi, guess you're not that much into football. :)

Jess, glad you enjoyed!

Elaine Ash said...

Charles, this was GREAT. I think you should think about doing a collection of stories for boys, and start with this one. It's humorous, endearing, and has wisdom to pass on to youngsters going through similar rites of passage. How do we learn to do our best when forces are against us and not quit? Through experiences like this. Through stories like this. I'm sure you could go through your boyhood and find 8 similar, character-building moments to turn into stories. Now more than ever, America needs a book like that for boys. I smell a very successful book, here.