Wolf: Mother Gridiron's gift
I love football but I am not alone.
The game has taught me many things about life and left an ineffaceable impression on my person. Mother Gridiron's white lines have cradled my thoughts, shaped opinions and infiltrated dreams. She has been a wonderful surrogate, nurturing a part of me my real mother was incapable of encouraging, a part of me that should only surface when an open field beckons one to step between the lines and embrace the rage.
And that is what I miss most about the game of football: engaging our rage and knowing that it's perfectly normal to do so within Mother's thorny embrace.
But there are others walking beside me, sitting around me.
Saturday, during the Cardinals Red & White Practice, 12,000 people showed up and surrounded the fields outside of the Walk-Up Skydome. Although many of them were hoping for an autograph, deep down inside - metaphorically speaking - they were expecting blood.
They would not be disappointed. Big Red got busy and backs were waxed. The bridle was off and some of the most aggressive people in the world got to tap into their primal, primordial selves - and unleash the fury.
It is amazing to me how a pigskin ball, nine-feet from a solid white line, affects football players...and people. During practice, with 12,000 witnesses, Ken Whisenhunt put the ball nine-feet away from the goal-line, Mother's Precious, and exhorted his players to rise up and have at it! And have at it they did!
But they weren't alone.
Steven Spach (TE) started the festivities with a TD reception in the back of the end-zone and then spiked the ball into the ground and the crowd went nuts! And so did Adrian Wilson. The intensity level increased exponentially and clubs were readied. This was not going to be your typical goal-line scrimmage. This was going to be nothing short of a full-blown, four-alarm face-pounding. Think of a blender set on "whip".
On the next play, Tim Hightower tried to bounce a run outside and the defense, led by Adrian Wilson, stuffed him and dropped him for a loss. Hightower dropped the ball and A-Dub picked it up. Barking at the offense the entire time, he flipped the pig into the air and threw his arms up, daring the offense to bring it!
Again, the ante was upped and the already hyper-aggressive scenario turned into a bloodletting. Nostrils flared, teeth started to grind, jaws flapped, eyes widened and rage flowed freely through clenched fists. People hit the ground, piles were formed, growls and guttural screams were heard and the beauty of the game, the goodness of Mother Gridiron, became clear to one-and-all-12,000 fans in attendance: this is why we love this game.
This is why THEY love this game.
Saturday's Red & White practice made me crave Mother Gridiron's milk but I wasn't alone. I saw the faces of thousands of people sitting behind the end-zone, where the fur was flying, and they were nothing short of gleeful, jocund in a sardonic sort of way. Those faces - men AND woman, alike - seemingly joined me in one, unified thought: Oh, to be able to step between the lines and feed the beast; to feel the rage of our ancestors, to grab a club and charge across an open field in righteous defense of our land, our possessions, our beliefs, our way of life.
This game speaks to us. Mother Gridiron doesn't just whisper in my ear or those blessed enough to play. I was standing just yards away from the mayhem and the masses. And they were one.