BY RAY VAN COR
The Greenville Standard
The game of football is more than something I watch on the weekends for me; it’s an avenue for memories of my playing days.
Ok, you can stop laughing any time you want. Sometimes I feel sorry for those who never got to experience all that was associated with playing.
Excruciating were the long hot practices in the south Alabama sun, during the months of August and September.
Half crazed coaches foaming at the mouth and yelling in your face, “Fire off the Ball!”or having a coach put his foot on your butt and shove you into the guy across from you,they called it super charging!
Late night bus rides back or running on to the field before the game started.
Almost all of us that played, worked during the summer cropping tobacco, in the chicken houses, laying sod or logging, and then went to football practice for fun.
It’s unheard of this day and age. One might say we were gluttons for punishment, and as my brother Caveman would put it, “We went to a fight and a football game broke out.”
When I’m asked what position I played, jokingly I reply, “Turf,” that’s where I could be found lying stretched out prone on the turf.
Imagine men like Leroy Johnson, Arnold Ponder or big Jim Woods standing on your chest at practice or having your bell rung by the likes of Gary Bozeman, Bruce Branum, and believe it or not and Q94’s David Norrell.
Not just a radio personality, there’s a reason they called him “Hammer.”
How about getting run slap over by Tom Powell or Carl Jenkins and the only words you can formulate afterwards is, “Mmm mmm mm Mama.”
There’s also a Baptist Minister that pastor’s Brushy Creek Church, and I’m here to tell you he was vicious. He wore forearm pads on both arms and I’m sure the imprint of my head is in both of them to this day. Preacher my foot! Just kidding.
Then there’s my own brother Caveman that waylaid me prone once, ok! Several times actually.
It made for interesting conversation at the dinner table and a fight before bed. No matter what school I played for, my mama would say the same thing every time she washed my uniforms.
She’d say, “I’m going to have to talk to those danged coaches! They’re going to have to change the team colors to grass green or you’re going to quit!
You could never tell what number I wore because the dirty cleat marks skewed the number on the front and the grass stains covered up the number on the back.
The Gospel truth is I was running for my life or trying to commit suicide depending on whether I was playing offense or defense or whose telling the story! I still shutter when I think about it!
I remember I was the last man out of the locker room one Friday night and I stopped to admire myself in this large mirror by the door.
In a subtle quite moment one of my coaches put his arm across my neck and shoulder pads and in a very calm voice he said, “It’s as good as it’s going to get.”
I shook my head and ran to the field.There are hundreds of true football stories I could tell that would make you laugh till it hurt, but that’s for another time.