One topic I have avoided writing about on this blog is my time on the high school football team. I have avoided it because I don’t want you to feel like a lesser human being. I was a pretty fucking big deal on the team if I do say so myself. Should I tell you now that I’m being sarcastic when I say I was an important cog on the football team? Okay, I will. The marching band had more of an effect on the outcome of the games than I did. It had nothing to do with skill but everything to do with heart.

(Like the Tinman, I lacked the heart it took to play football. Unlike the Tinman, I didn’t get cancer from a movie role. Did the actor get cancer or is this one of those Urban Legends?)

It’s not that I sucked at football or anything. In fact, in 8th grade I was Defensive Most Valuable Player during intramurals where I led Mrs. Chernoski’s homeroom to a championship picture. Yes, all we got was our picture taken together. My biggest play was during the championship game. My class was losing by a touchdown. For some reason the douchebag quarterback (redundancy) on the other team decided to pass the ball instead of running out the clock. Fuckface (trust me on this one, he was an awful human being and both of his best friends are dead now which is completely irrelevant but I want you to know there is at least some sick justice in the world) threw a long spiral through the air. Guess who was standing there to catch it because he was too slow to catch up with the rest of the team? Me! I ran it back half way down the field and on the next play my team tied the game which led to two more games until finally we sealed the deal. Considering I was 5’7 200 pounds and could actually move fast while my classmates were on average 5’5 120 pounds it was no surprise I was so incredibly dominant.

Naturally when high school came along it was clear I should play football. The thing about high school football though is it’s nothing like 8th period intramural flag football. You have to wear equipment, know plays, and exercise. What??? I played football almost every day at recess in middle school and trust me on this, I was amazing. I would have made a perfect tight end in high school thanks to my size and ability to catch the ball and not have consideration for the physical wellness of others. It looked like in high school I would find my niche.

The football team had an “open invite” to any freshman interested in joining the freshman football team that summer. Only about 15 kids showed up and I was one of them. Our duty was basically to stand around on a July day and give the mean black kids water. Coaches made us run a little bit too which I have never been a fan of doing. One kid found a football and we had our own little game. Mr. Gatto, fattest coach with a lisp who is rumored to have a gigantic penis (The Gattoconda), came over and told us to stop playing football at football camp. We were only there to observe. This was the moment I started to really hate football and everything about it.

(From what I heard this was pretty much what he looked like showering)

Actual practices for the freshman team started in mid-August. Mid-August was my annual trip to the Poconos with my dad and sister so I missed the practices. This was not a big deal until I came back. I went to a practice and everyone already had a position, knew plays, and a kid named Byron who decided to go by Wesley (what the fuck?) had already quit. I felt incredibly far behind in every aspect. I didn’t even know they made footballs without “Nerf” written on them.

The first real practice I went to was terrible. Another freshman was in the same position as me, a black kid named Lenny. We were the only two kids on the team without uniforms. The coach didn’t make a big deal because I was built like a football player and he assumed Lenny could run really fast, he could. I spent this practice running and getting equipment while wondering in my head what I had gotten myself into.

I have and never will be a big football fan. It took playing Madden for me to even understand the sport. I do not like football because: 1) There are not enough games. Football has 16 regular season games a year, one game a week. Baseball, my favorite sport, has 162 regular season games and there’s a game almost every night. 2) It’s mean. 3) Doug Flutie killed my family. 4) It’s tough to come up with real reasons. People say baseball moves slowly but at least it isn’t mostly clock watching. Clock watching makes me think of being at my grandmother’s where the only thing to do is watch the clock and look at her old Johnny Carson tapes she has sitting around.

(If Doug Flutie had a huge gay following they’d have the perfect name)

It was clear my career as a high school football player was not going to happen. I started thinking up as many excuses in my head as to why I shouldn’t stick with it. My excuses were 1) I had asthma and asthmatics always die during football practice. 2) My parents were too busy and wouldn’t be able to pick me up or take me to practices. 3) I didn’t know any of the plays and we had a scrimmage in a week. 4) Doug Flutie killed my family. 5) That whole showering with the same kids who make fun of you for being fat doesn’t seem like fun. 6) High school sports are for dicks.

I slid a note under the coach’s office door explaining to him that I would not be able to commit to the team due to personal reasons. I thanked him for the opportunity and he probably had no clue who the note was from. It took me longer to write up a letter of resignation than time I spent on a football field. What would have happened if I stuck with it? I predict I would have been really good. I would have been incredibly dominant, possibly gotten a scholarship, and in college football I would have been a sought after 7th round pick (that’s the last draft round). In order to do that I would have had to get even fatter than I already was. I didn’t and I will probably not die at 42 from Lou Gehrig’s disease which I think you shouldn’t be allowed to get if you play football.

The moral of the story, I don’t like football and I would probably have a lot of traumatic memories if I stuck with it. Thank goodness the rest of my high school experience was so honky dory. Tomorrow, the time the science teachers gave me a massive wedgy.

  1. You’re more right than you realize; Hubs loved football in middle school because it was pressure-less fun. In high school they had to do two-a-days in the summer (a concept foreign to girls, or at least this girl) with full gear, then get yelled at by coaches for losing games. One punishment for losing was the team rolling UP a hill over and over during a practice. Hubs barfed. Then he barfed before every game from nerves. He still has nightmares. He wanted to quit by his senior year but felt like there were too many people expecting him to play – they were terrible, he was the biggest and fastest, like you. The coaches made all the good players who were trying to quit captains as incentive. He could’ve gotten scholarships (he had lots of offers) but his knees are all messed up and he began to hate the game.

    You don’t even know the bullet you dodged on this one, Tim.

    • Mooselicker says:

      Are you telling me I could have rolled up a hill if I had stuck with it? That actually sounds like something I may try this weekend…

      Did he grow up in Texas too? I know how notorious you guys are for high school football. I’m sure it’s a thousand times worse for him than it could have ever been for me. My biggest problem would have been committing to something I didn’t believe in. I’m glad to know I probably did the right thing.

      • Yeah, he grew up in Arlington – home of the Cowboys. Football is HUGE in the Dallas/FW area (next to Arlington). And you’re right, high school football is somehow just as important. I didn’t stick with any sports either, but it was because I was bad at all of them. Except for swimming, but that was because we barely had anyone on the team, so I was good by default.

  2. Addie says:

    Lou Gehrig is baseball’s disease, you silly goose!! I’m glad you didn’t play football–all of them seemed so dull.

    PS The tin man didn’t get cancer from the paint. The original Tin Man was Buddy Ebsen (of Beverly Hillbillies) and he got sick from the paint from inhaling it, so, they hired Jack Haley, who didn’t get sick. I know way too much trivia, don’t I?

    • Mooselicker says:

      What I meant was if you play football you shouldn’t be allowed to get Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Sure, Mike Ditka Syndrome or Bart Starr Flu but not ALS.

      As I always say, trivia comes from the word trivial and doesn’t the word trivial sound so important? At least I know who to turn to whenever I want to know anything about before today (history).

  3. Buddy Ebson, the guy who played Uncle Jed Clampet, was going to play the role of the Tinman. They used a makeup with real aluminum in it or something like that, and he got very sick and almost died. He was actually a song and dance man on Broadway, and he danced with Shirly Temple in one or two movies. That wasn’t something I Googled. I am just smater than you. And I have heart. I even have a heart. But I don’t have the organized sport gene. So, football… meh…

  4. Football. Why? Just why? I obviously am not a fan either, but it’s just because I don’t understand it, not because I have an actual case against it like you do. But I may just pass your experience off as my own in case anyone ever asks me what football did to me. I think it would be completely believable.

    • Mooselicker says:

      Football is a sport I think a lot of kids play because there are different skills no matter how unathletic you are that can be valuable. I was a fat kid so I took up room which is an important part of football.

  5. […] High School Football Experiences (all about how I avoided getting raped) […]

  6. I was a cheerleader, believe it or not. I was the one that was cheering for offense when we were playing defense, and cheering defense when we were playing offense. Those were the days…
    I will forever associate football with delicious concession stand food (I’m a foodie if you didn’t know) bad marching band music, and freezing my buns off during those New York games. I had no clue what was going on. All I cared about was looking good – which didn’t include understanding the actual game. Good times!

    • Mooselicker says:

      As much as you think you don’t know about sports this officially means you’ve been to way more football games than I have in my entire life. I’ve been to 1 pro and 3 college.

      Were cheerleaders always evil or did something take a turn for the worse sometime in the early 90s? For some reason I can’t imagine you being an evil cheerleader but maybe you were one of the good ones.

      • I’m not sure? We were all pretty funny and didn’t take it too seriously. We actually had fun. Nowadays they have competitions so I’m sure the girls are more cut throat and confident. Evil… I can see that.

        As with most sports I enjoy the scenery, the food, and the fans, more than the actual game. 🙂

  7. legends52 says:

    High school football in Northern New Jersey, not my cup of tea. But I stick with it for all four years just because I was hoping to have a better season every year that came. Going into my senior year was when I was most excited. I was a starting corner back, I made some neat plays in our seven-on-sevens, I had a faster 40 than our number 1 option receiver, and I had gotten stronger over the summer. Then training camp came and all the horror came down pouring like hail. I knew what was up with the coaches wanting a state championship more than anything else in the world, I had- for three years- been through the routine of two-a-days in grueling 90-100 degree temperatures, and I knew senior year would be the most important one. Immediately, my starting position as a corner back was taken away from me for reasons that were never quite explained and given to a junior, I was buried deep as a #4 receiving option (which was bullshit because our coach decided to go by his own rotation by putting in inexperienced and smaller sophomores over experienced veteran receivers). We had two new receiver coaches to replace the previous one who had retired and was also a really awesome coach. He would literally send us on verticals and lightly throw us the ball to warm up, then just talk to all of us until team drills began. These two new coaches overworked us with ridiculous footwork drills, and sent us running routes that I didn’t even think existed (zig-zag type routes and weird QB scramble-situation routes). They even made us to blocking drills on the fucking LINEMEN SLED! That’s a crime against humanity in the football world. Above all, they were dicks and were just as pissed off to be at our practices as the players were.

    Come our first game scrimmage (the only scrimmage that was ran with a clock, score, and both teams wearing game uniforms to give it the feel of a live regular season game), we were smacked by the Falcons (I’m not saying which town) 44-0. That run-stopping defense I watched from the sideline was porous all game, missing tackles I could have easily made on some of the most simple and recognizable rushing routes (dives, slams). We then lost our first two games of the regular season, and we very well seemed to be on our way to a shortened, no-playoff season for the first time since I was a freshman. I’ll tell you, the team from that year deserved to be in the playoffs more than we ever did.

    We came back from the deficit by playing against really bad teams (one of the first two teams was the eventual sectional champion) to finish the regular season at 6-3 with a first round playoff berth. I was only part of the action in four of those games when we were leading by 35 points or more with not so much time left to go. And believe me, I made the most out of stalk-blocking when I had no choice to make “a big play.” I mean, who would still throw the ball being up 40 and five minutes left to go??

    Then Hurricane Sandy came and made New Jersey its bitch. One of the worst times for the sheltered ones in the north with the “first world problem” state of mind, as there was scarce gasoline, no electricity, and (the worst) NO FACEBOOK! Dum-dum-dum!!!

    Our next game was delayed a week, which also caused a few infractions. Our final regular season game (which didn’t really mean anything since we had already clinched the spot a game before) was scheduled for November 3, our first playoff game was scheduled for November 10, with the semi-final being on November 17 and the state championship being on December 1. Due to the Sandy damage, our last regular season game was moved to November 10, our first round game was scheduled for November 17, the semi-final was moved to December 1st, and the state final was moved to December 8… wait, wait, wait! A semi-final TWO WHOLE WEEKS from the first playoff game?! Fuck that!

    It had already been such an awful season leading up to that point! I had next to no action on the field, got battered around as a scout in practice, and ultimately, had all my summer’s worth of hard work turning out to be totally meaningless. I wanted out. I wanted to lose. I wanted my career to be finished and to never have to go to a football practice ever again!

    I had found out about this through my closest friend on the team, who had found out about this through his brother, who had found out about this through an online news source- I am now very grateful that in a time with no electricity my friend’s brother was able to pull through to get the news online, because the coaches wouldn’t even tell us about the two-week delay.

    When I heard in environmental science (a class which I was in with four other football players, three being from my grade and those three just so happening to be the team captains) that the jocks were talking about a peaceful winding-down of the football season with a state playoff this week, a semi final next week, and a state game two weeks after, I immediately notified them about the schedule change due to Hurricane Sandy. They didn’t believe me at first, but (thank God for iPhones), I pulled up the online article that my friend showed me on my mobile cellular device and gave them the solid media-based proof about the alterations. I remember our Clay Matthews-wannabe inside linebacker captain’s jaw dropping beneath the surface and our egotistical, selfish, glory-seeking running back captain in a daze of negative emotions, claiming: “I hereby have changed my decision…” By now you all should know what that means.

    Every player on the team was notified, and now I wasn’t really a big part of the jock crowd (I tried avoiding that stereotype as much as humanly possible), but something told me that a few may have had secret meetings at each others houses on the game plan vs. the Falcons.

    Remember the Falcons? Back in the summer, they had smacked us 44-0 (which I had heard, if a regular season game would have been a futility record for the worst loss in school history). And now we were (supposed to be) seeking revenge. This time, instead of a warm Friday evening at our field, it was set at a windy but clear Saturday afternoon at their field. When we had arrived, we were sent home on a stretcher again, losing 40-14 and effectively ending my career.

    Team conclusion: I don’t know if the coach would know the same, but this would turn out to be a disappointing football team to be associated with. With selfish captains, underclassmen that were happy when we lost (<– forgot to tell you that part), and just no spirit for the game anymore, this was every high school football player's nightmare. Maybe the varsity starters did think differently when they were stacking numbers up with touchdowns and yards and sacks and tackles and catches and carries! But even they didn't like the program.

    Our football coach had gradually gone from bad to worse as the season dragged on. We had practices midway through the week of Sandy in which school had been shut down for a week just to play a meaningless game! We were also battered, practicing through below-freezing temperatures until nearly seven o'clock at night, and, in even one case, a FUCKING BLIZZARD! We're not in the NFL! We didn't need that shit! Numerous meetings were also held to review over the most simple plays ever, requiring the whole team to be in the gym and just look on to the varsity activity taking place below. Game walk-throughs taking place in parking spots, the stage, and school hallways just because we couldn't get the gym to practice in? Yikes! According to rumors, all or most of the assistant football coaches had the head coach and his dictatorship-like ways of running the scene. This was a bigger Hollywood team than the 2012-2013 LA Lakers, or the 2011 New York Jets!

    What an awful experience. That's all it leads me to say in this day and age.

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