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
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.