Over the past few months I’ve been very energetic in my recreational activities. Through the months of August and September, I participated in our summer basketball league at work. Nothing too intense, just a bunch of guys (and one girl) out there playing competitive basketball. We played our games every Thursday afternoon after work. This was my third year playing and probably the best basketball I’ve played since… ummm… let’s just say my ‘Wonder Years’. We had a decent squad and made it through the first round of the playoffs before being eliminated by the top seeded team. Hell, our entire team was under 6 feet and when we played against teams with 6 footers, it required a lot more hustle and determination. I never let that deter me from crashing the boards or driving to the basket.
Anyway, back to where I stand today. They started a flag football league at work and I decided to play. I honestly hadn’t touched a football in probably 10 years at least. However, due to my aggressiveness and fighting spirit on the basketball court, I was recruited by a few folks trying to get me on their football team. So, I roll up to the field, stretch out for all of 3 minutes and walk over to where everyone is lined up to be picked. The guy in charge threw a wrench into everyone’s plans by walking down the line and counting off in groups of four. That’s how the teams were picked. It didn’t matter to me who was on my team, I just wanted to play.
I walked over the the fence, grabbed the belt with the yellow flags attached to it and fastened it around my waist. I check the tightness of the laces on my Nike Goa Dome boots, tucked my shirt in made a final adjustment to the drawstrings on my sweatpants. My team was receiving the opening kickoff and I was ready…. ready to rumble. I had no idea what I was in for, but it was gonna be fun. For the next hour I would spend my time on offense playing wide receiver and running go routes straight down the field. Problem I failed to realize when I was using all of my energy streaking down the sidelines like Terrell Owens, was that my quarterback was not Donovan McNabb or Michael Vick. Although he’d call plays for me to run straight to the end zone, he couldn’t make those throws. Thus, I was wasting the electricity that I did have at the beginning tryna make a big time play. On defense, I was playing middle linebacker/free safety. Look we were playing 7 on 7 aiiight, not like we had 11 players on the field. You gotta make due with wha’cha got. I was making plays on defense though. I was knocking balls away in the first half and had my concentration been a lil’ bit better, I would’ve had an interception.
The halftime score was 18-16. Our team had three TD’s, but couldn’t convert any extra point attempts. Their team however had just two TD’s and two 2 point conversions. The second half began and I was trying not to be frustrated with my role in the offense. I hadn’t caught a pass all game. The QB kept calling plays for me, but I was blanketed by the defensive coverage. Neither team scored in the 3rd quarter, just a lot of turnovers. The 4th quarter started and we had the ball. Somehow my QB threw the ball right into the hands of their best defender and he returned it for a TD. We got the ball back on the kickoff and two plays later he threw another interception. Now we’re in their Red Zone and our backs are against the wall. They were trying to finish us with less than 5 minutes remaining.
I took my position in the middle of the field. Their QB hiked the ball, I read the play as a screen pass and my guess was correct. I lunged in front of their RB and grabbed the ball slam outta the air and landed in a pile of dirty grass. I had finally made a big play. I wanted to get up and do a dance or somethin’, but we were still down. 3 minutes remained on the clock and we had the ball. We drove down the length of the field trying to run the clock out. We were about 2 first downs away from the end zone but it was fourth down. It was less than a minute remaining and we decided to go for it all. The play that was called was for the wide receiver on the right to do a corner route to the end zone. Being that they keyed on me pretty much during the game, it was my job to try and get their safety on defense to think the play was going to me on the left side. My QB hiked the ball, I ran straight down the field like I had done a multitude of times during the game, yet I had no receptions. I looked back to see my QB being blitzed and I immediately threw my hand up to signal to him where I was. He cocked his arm back and threw the ugliest pass of the game. The ball was wobbling and spinning out of control. I cut toward the center of the field to where it appeared the ball was gonna land. Only two players were in that vicinity, me and one of their cornerbacks. I jumped up (slightly pushed off) and did my best Randy Moss imitation to try and get the ball. Seconds later I was cradling the ball in my arms like a newborn baby. TOUCHDOWN!!! TOUCHDOWN!!! TOUCHDOWN!!! Score 24-23. I had done it. I had just made the biggest play since playing football in the 3rd grade in 1981. Our team lined up for an extra point and again we failed. We kicked the ball off to the other team with 20 seconds left. They ran two plays to no avail. WE WON!!! WE WON!!! WE WON!!!
Shortly after everyone walked off the field, I reminisced back to my grade school years. The years when I played WR and Safety when we had football games from 1st to 3rd grade. I got the nickname ‘Eggum Power’. Long story made short. My name is Greg, they said I had an egg head and I had skills in all sports. Thus came this ridiculous nickname. It was my nickname for dodgeball, kickball, basketball, football and softball. Basically all sports that kid’s play in elementary school. That moment last night made me smile. It made me reflect on my years as a kid when I was carefree and just had fun playing sports. Now, I was at a stage where I had to walk slowly to my car and think about how many days my knees and shins were gonna hurt after playing a one hour football game. Don’t worry, I have plenty of anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers and painkillers in my bathroom cabinet. That cold pack and rubbing that Mineral Ice on my legs sure made em feel better though. Just wait til next Wednesday’s game…