what i learned from front yard football…

Posted: January 7, 2015 in brain belches
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I am an American kid.

I was raised on fried food and football.

I have a lot of really sweet memories that smell like football.

I remember a bitter cold winter night, my Dad, brother and me, huddled in a pick up truck, listening to the last few minutes of the Super Bowl on an AM radio.

I remember sitting on metal bleachers eating steaming Frito-chili pie (I know, it’s an Oklahoma thing!) at home football games.

I remember falling in love with America’s team. When I was in 3rd grade, I decided the Dallas Cowboys were my team too. They have been ever since. I stuck with them through the good years and the bad years. You learn that haters are gonna hate, but you got to stick with your team. That’s what you do.

My personal dreams of football glory were lived out in our front yard. Growing up, We had a huge front yard that was an almost perfect football field. On most fall Saturdays we would gather…a rag tag collection of neighborhood NFL wannabes, We would choose teams and draw elaborate plays in the dirt.

We were completely serious about our fun! It wasn’t pretty, we fumbled and stumbled. It wasn’t about perfection, It was all about play.

We didn’t have nice uniforms or pads. We played in t-shirts, jeans and Chuck Taylors. We got dirty.

Sometimes kids got mad, hopefully it wasn’t the kid who owned the ball.

We learned that it was more about heart than ability, my brother was the youngest player but also the scrappiest.

We learned how to (and how not to) play through pain. I remember the same kid got hurt every game and went home crying. We adjusted and kept playing. It was a rough game.

Sometimes the game hurts, you learn to get up and carry on. Most hurts were solved with a little break and a Dixie cup full of warm tropical punch Kool-Aid.

On that note, we had a bird house on a very tall metal pole right in the center of our front yard. Inevitably someone would run into the birdhouse. They knew it was there, my Dad didn’t move it. It was a big, unyielding, permanent fixture in our football field. Most of the time it wasn’t a problem, but if you forgot it was there, and hit it at the right angle, it would jack you up! You gotta watch out for the bird houses in life. We all have bird houses in our lives, things that could jack us up. The lesson is simple…know that they are there and avoid them.

But, I think the single biggest thing I learned in the front yard was where I fit.

I couldn’t catch or throw, I wasn’t fast…

but I DO have a very low center of gravity.

Because of that I could stay on my feet when people were trying to tackle me.

Our quarterback, usually my friend Jimmy, would hand me the ball and shout “RUN!” And I would.

I was more grunt than graceful.

the truth was you couldn’t really call what I was doing running…

I was really just moving in the right direction…that was enough…life is more about just moving in the right direction than speed.

I realized I could run…okay…move in the right direction with 3 or 4 guys hanging on my neck. They would desperately try to bring me down but they couldn’t!

It was awesome!

My team mates celebrated my innate ability to stand up.

There are a few benefits to being the same height and width.

I can’t fully explain the feelings of achievement and belonging that I felt when my team celebrated me finding my place.

It was soul Gatorade.

It was life.

AHHHH!!! the sweetness of finding your sweet spot.

Know your role and play it.

Don’t compare yourselves to others.

Don’t keep track of how many times other people get the ball.

There is only one quarterback on the field…but he’s not on the field by himself!

Find your sweet spot.

Now, several decades later, I, like most chubby, middle age guys, live out my football dreams second hand. I put on a jersey and I talk about “OUR” team going all the way…this could be “OUR” year!

But, I remember the lessons that I learned. I play, I watch out for bird houses and most important, I know who I am.

I know what I can do and what I can’t.

I also know there is nothing better on a cold day than a steaming styrofoam cup of frito-chili pie!

Go Cowboys!

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