It was a dark, cold winter night. I shivered slightly and tried to stretch my arms as wide as possible. I was huddled in the mens restroom of the local high school, standing by the hand dryer and trying to keep warm. My intramural flag football team had made it to the championship game and the high school had agreed to let us use the facility there to play our Super Bowl under the bright lights at night. A wave of apprehension settled in the pit of my stomach. This was the high school I graduated from before attending the university nearby. I had played football on this same field and broken the school record for the 1,600-meter relay on the surrounding track with my fellow teammates. But this was different. I was in college now and shouldn’t be nervous about a friendly game of football against the most feared team at the school: The frat houses and commuters. These guys were ridiculously fast and coordinated. Some of them played baseball for the university…I guess I had reason to be nervous after all. I’m not the biggest guy on the field by any means, but I did have the speed to my advantage. All I needed to do was defend these guys in the secondary well and my quarterback could get his job done on the other side of the ball. I decided to finally brave the biting wind outside and take the stairs to join my team warming up on the field.
John, our quarterback, was throwing bullets to guys to keep our fingers from freezing together. Nobody wanted to wear gloves in fear that it would hamper our ability to play ball to our full potential. We soon heard the whistle signifying our captain must approach midfield in order to call the coin toss. He returned moments later and informed us that he had deferred to receive the kick during the second half. Knowing how crucial the initial possession in the second half is, we all nodded our approval.
We broke out of our huddle and I took the field, appraising the situation and determining my most formidable opponent. I knew it was up to me to keep the other team from scoring on their first drive. I stuck with the receivers like glue, but they ran the ball into the end zone after a long drive with several short rushes. However, we came right back and scored against them the same way.
The offense went back and forth, taking turns scoring without being stopped. This continued until late in the fourth quarter. The score was tied at 28 and there were only 3 minutes left in the game. We had the other team stuck near midfield with 3 yards to get a first down. If they didn’t get those three yards, we would get the ball and had a chance to go for the win in regulation. I ran out wide right to cover the receiver out there. It wasn’t until I got near the sideline and looked at him that I realized that I was lined up across from Paul Bunyan. I was like a Lilliputian compared to him. I knew that if they were sending this guy so wide, their plan was to just toss him the ball and let him get the job done from there. With this in mind, I made sure to stick on him tight in case there might be an opportunity for interception.
The quarterback hiked the ball and it was immediately in the hands of the giant who stood before me. I knew he would cut inside, so I quickly stepped to cut him off. I was there, right in front of him, but it did not look like he was going to slow down.
I felt my hand grasp around the flag at his hip. Simultaneously, my mind was suddenly numb and I felt a peculiar confusion and a dull ache somewhere inside my head. I looked up and saw people standing over me. I looked down and found a flag in my hand. By the looks of things, I had prevented the other team from reaching the first down marker. We had regained possession of the ball! Yet, people were looking at me with an unnerving concern. My face felt hot. I put my hand up to my face and it was warm and sticky. I heard someone say, “We need someone to take him and get that looked at.”
The next thing I knew, I was waiting in the emergency room with a swelling head wrapped in bandages. I was informed that I had broken my facial orbit and that they would be fixing it before more blood drained into my eye. But, the main question I wanted to know was, had we won?
They said we had won. My face was my first broken bone. And you know what?
It was SO WORTH it.
The experience of euphoria that I had that night is one that I can never explain in words about what it meant to me but it always makes me tear-eyed with nostalgia whenever I think about it but what matters is that everyone wanted a thrilling match that night and they got it. It was around the same time that the football index new customer offer was launched that gives opportunity for many out there who want to take up football.