Super Bowl LVII

When I was in fourth grade, the only organized sports that I ever played in my life was on a Pop Warner football team on McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey.

I was an untalented runt of a player who never got to play. I only sat on the bench in my uniform with my helmet at my feet waiting to put it on my head as I headed out onto the field the moment our Coach called my name . . . a call which never came the entire season that I never missed a game.

Our team made the playoffs, but our Dad got orders to go to Vietnam, and our family moved from New Jersey about a two hour’s drive away to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the steel town of our parents’ birth to live with our Grammie Hessinger.

But before he went overseas, our Dad drove all our family back to McGuire from Bethlehem so that I could be there for my team to sit on the bench and watch the big game.

Someone told our Coach that I was there in my customary spot on the bench in full uniform with my helmet at my feet and my entire family in the bleachers behind me.

In the fourth quarter with the game already decided against us in one of the last plays of the game, our Coach called my name, and I grabbed my helmet, put it on, and took my place as, of all things, a defensive tackle. What else could I do. I was too small and untalented to play any other position.

When the already-winning opposing team snapped the ball, their quarterback handed off to their huge fullback who came right at me.

Instead of going low like a defensive tackle is supposed to do, I simply tried to bear hug the big guy with the ball, but his momentum swung me up onto his back as if I was mounting a running horse like in the Hollywood Westerns that I watched every Saturday of my boyhood.

I promptly fell off as the fullback ran past the line of scrimmage, got my puny body tangled up in his legs as I did so, and thus tripped this man-child, and made my only tackle in my only play on the only team for which I would ever play.

For some reason, our Coach called me back out, slapped my back once to congratulate me, and then we all watched the other team score another touchdown the very next play.

To this day, I wonder if we could have won that game had our Coach played me more.

By the way, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is about an hour drive north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and my Pop Warner football team was called the Eagles.

I guess the point of my story is just to say, “GOOOOOOOO EAGLES!”

2 responses to “Super Bowl LVII”

  1. My go-to line watching the Super Bowl has been, “When I played football . . . ” It got laughs the first few times that I said it, but the line kind of lost its funny. However, THAT didn’t stop me from saying it!

    1. Sadly, when I played football, our Eagles lost the Big Game too.

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