So last Sunday night at around 8 pm I got a text from one of my friends from college** asking me if I could play in his flag football game that night since they were down a guy. Being the ultimate team player that I am (even if I am not even technically on the team) I happily accepted and brought my talents to North Kingstown for the game at 11 pm that night. For most normal people that would be too short of notice or too late to play football but I'm basically nocturnal since graduating college, 11pm to me is like 6pm to a normal productive human being.
**only friend I made in college
Obviously I'm excited to play, I love football, I played in high school, and it's easily my favorite sport. However unlike any other sport you may have played in high school with football unless you somehow play in college or make it to the NFL after high school ball you're never going to get to play real football again.
Basically flag or two hand touch are the only options. In Some leagues a lot of contact is allowed, usually full contact in the trenches (offensive and defensive line) and in others theres absolutely no blocking allowed (URI intramural league, least fun ever, Chad sucks!) I've played flag football before, but I'm not gonna lie to you, it's been a few years, I was worried I may have lost a step or two. Last time I was on the field one of my buddy's basically broke his elbow so that was still in the back of my mind.
As a former linemen I prefer live blocking, but no flag football can ever replicate what it is like to be in a helmet and pads. Call me a pussy or whatever but when you're not wearing a helmet and shoulder pads IMO it's a little more scary to hit someone, you don't want to get banged in the face or anything. I'm not trying to lose a tooth in a rec league.
I'm never gonna go 100% it's simply not worth the risk of injury at this stage in life. Maybe if there was a scout in the house but I didn't see any.
So anyways I show up to indoor field around 10:00 to meet my buddy and get introduced to the rest of his team, we warm up a little and then it's game-time. I joked around about how I'm gonna play so well that they're gonna wanna keep me........I say joking but I was 100% serious. I mean after all, I was a "key returner" going into my senior year of HS and "key loss" the year after I graduated in the local newspaper NBD. Yeah we went 3-8 my senior year and I sucked, but some loser who has to cover Rhode Island Division 3 High School Football wrote it so I'm gonna bring it up. I don't write the headlines, I just get put in them.
So yeah I took this game very, very seriously. One of my biggest flaws (other than my psychical appearance and personality) has to be my over competitiveness in sports. The less they actually matter, the more I care. I cared more about intramural basketball in college than I did about my grades. I can't remember much of that "book learnin" I did in school but I'll always remember winning an intramural championship my junior year. That memory alone was worth the 30K in debt. Everybody dies, but champions live forever.
So in this league it is 5 on 5.... QB, 3 WR and a Center who is eligible to go out for passes. I played center (obviously) and it was a lot of fun. I only knew one guy on my team, but I was ready to go to war. Plus when I saw how much I hated the other team it made it easy for ole dozo to get juiced up....If you are someone I don't know I start off hating you and you have to earn your keep. Thats just in my DNA. Not gonna fight who I am.
The game starts and since I was the 6th guy and it was not my team (yet) I offered to start on the bench. I may be a crass at times, but deep down I am a good guy, who is very sensitive and caring about many things that you would not expect just by looking at me. One thing I am definitely not is a monster, I'm not gonna just show up and try to start on a team that isn't mine.
BUT the 2nd play of the game comes and I try to hint I'm ready to go in. Enough is a enough, I'm a star damnit, how are you gonna let a man who was considered a "key loss" for a 2nd to last place D3 football team rot away on the bench?
Finally I get into the game and am ready to run through a brickwall. After about 3 minutes I am ready to take a nap. Despite recently dropping over 30 pounds I am still in awful shape so I was pretty winded.
Plus I was blocking some loser with a wicked aggressive hipster haircut and full sleeve who was pretty quick. You know a guy like that is little off and probably lives for this, like the only thing that gets him through the week is the one hour of flag football he gets Sunday night. Pretty sure he didn't have to go work his 9-5 job the next day either. So I quickly realized this guy is much faster than I am and I decided to go back to some of my older ways and hit him with a cheap shot. I needed to gain an edge. My friend who asked me to play is the QB and I'm not gonna let some loser touch him. Plus at this point I'm focused in the game and not looking at the crowd, who knows a scout may have shown up late and I need to show I can still play at the old age of 24.
What I love about sports is they are a way where you sometimes can get away with hitting a person and not have to pay for the consequences. I am a big hard foul guy in pickup basketball as well. No easy layups especially when it's game point. I may suck at basketball but am gonna make you earn it.
One strategy I love to use is to quickly apologize and act like whatever I did was an accident. Make it seem like I am a genuine human who is sorry. When in reality that elbow to the face when blocking you was planned and I'm going to do it again next series. Could you argue this is a sociopathic move?...perhaps, but using your brain to get a mental edge is half the battle in sport.
The game is going on, pretty fast moving, getting really intense and high scoring. We got down early and were down like 20-6 going in the half. Second half starts and we drive the length of the field to get within one score and guess who scored the touchdown to bridge the gap?
I'll give you a hint....
I cannot lie it was one of the best feelings I've had in years. I've gone through a lot personally and scoring a TD in my flag football debut made it all go away for a second. I wanted to Gronk spike the ball really bad, but we were still losing and I'm not big into celebrating when trailing. Looking back maybe I should have, it could have gave us an even bigger spark the rest of the game.
Despite being a spark plug by being the largest man to score a TD in a football game since The Fridge in 1985 we were unable to ever retake the lead. I for one will be a man and take the blame.
Scoring a touchdown was awesome but I also "dropped" two separate 1 pt conversions (no extra points or kicking at all in flag) in the 2nd half. I put it in quotations because one was under-thrown and the other was slapped out of my hands as I was extending over the goal-line. If this place was worth it's weight at all and had video reviews you could have clearly seen that I broke the plain AND made a football move. Catch should have counted and will haunt me forever. It's always the mistakes that stick with you longer than the triumphs.
Overall I had a lot of fun and hope my buddies team ends up signing me for the rest of the season. I liked the guys I played with and think the team has a lot of potential. I'm fine taking a team friendly deal to stay close to home hopefully my agent will be able to get something figured out by next Sunday night. Whatever comes up I'll be ready, because just like that text I got Sunday night, you never know when your number is going to be called.