Yards To Go Before I Sleep


[Otis Love Guernsey, football player and "...
Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

Yards To Go Before I Sleep

“ Football is 90% temper and 10% mental “   Doug Plank, ex-Chicago Bear

Neurosurgeons note each year in September that there is a marked increase in male testosterone levels.  Brain scans reveal new levels of activity in cerebellums that have been dormant since early February.  For most, autumn is a time for back to school celebrations, pumpkins, apple picking and a landscape brushed from a palette of reds, oranges and golds.  It is also football season. Booyah !

Over the course of so many seasons, I have noticed how certain people, particularly men,  rely on sports analogies as a framework for relating to any situation.  During last year’s Pop Warner football season, I lampooned many of our most scared institutions – coaches, parents, politicians and our vicarious preoccupation with pre-pubescent gridiron, subjecting the parents of our then fifth grade players to a series of nonsensical newsletters simply titled, “Under The Bleachers”.  In one edition, I managed to memorialize the metaphors muttered most by manic men (how’s that for alliteration?).  These catch phrases are universal bridges guaranteed to penetrate to the thickest skull when trying to make a point.  They are the lowest common denominator of literary vehicles.

He tends to out punt his coverage – This individual has a habit of getting ahead of himself and his team and in doing so, exposes the squad to a negative consequence.

A good punt allows the kicking team to get down the field to prevent any return.  In business, people who out kick coverage are usually found in Sales and Marketing.  It’s often also referred to “writing checks one does not have the ability to cash”.

He’s played a little too long without a helmet – This person is generally a dullard, oaf, boor or a health insurance executive.  Rarely is this person aware of this fact.

I have seen better hands on a grandfather clock – The person in question has poor hand eye coordination that results in constantly dropped passes, missed catches or poor performance on a first date.  This individual would probably be best employed as a firewatcher or rickshaw driver.

He’s a few yards short of a first down – Metaphorically, this suggests a person does not completely possess the skills necessary to complete a complicated task and would best be suited in non skill positions such as politics or working for the CIA in foreign intelligence

This coach is depriving a village of an idiot somewhere – generally used when a coach has made a poor decision causing great harm to his/her team.  The practice of employing village idiots is now illegal in the world except in parts of the District of Columbia and England.  “So many walls, so little time” – The English Idiot Creed

He zigged when he should have zagged – This describes an individual player that made the worst possible choice and as a result, the play ended in disaster.  It can also apply to any circumstance where someone with 50% odds of success makes the wrong decision. This often results in tragic consequences.  Example:  John Wayne Bobbit zigged when he should have zagged and Lorena got the better of him.

Time for a Hail Mary – This refers to a wild, last ditch effort – – normally a trick play or long bomb pass to attempt to win.  As with all football, it has a clearly Catholic theme.  For Protestants, it is a suspicious play.  It was most likely first attempted at Notre Dame University when the team had one last play to go eighty yards to score against a protestant university.  “Hail Mary, Mother of Grace” was possibly uttered in the huddle and forever became synonymous with a call for a miracle.  The baseball equivalent of a Hail Mary is “swinging for the fences “.  The singles bar equivalent is asking the person you just met what they like to eat for breakfast.

The best defense is a good offense – This strategy is well understood by any married couple and is a commonly deployed strategy by wives to deflect attention from legitimate points of view during an argument.  In football, a sustained offensive push can keep one’s team from being put on the defensive.  This is also a device used by men who are on the cusp of losing arguments with the opposite sex. .  For example, let’s say you roll in at 4 a.m. with a ripped suit , black eye and lipstick written on your forehead that reads “ I am a pig “.  The best defense in this situation is:  a) blame it on your best friend, b) laugh and say it is all one big misunderstanding,  c)throw yourself on the mercy of the court, or d) go on offense and pick a fight with your spouse over the fact that Village Cleaners did not drop off your laundry that day. Answer: D

You can only option right so long before you get thrown for a big loss – as a general rule of thumb, it’s best not to keep calling the same play as your opposition will adjust and catch on, possibly resulting in a loss of yardage.  This also applies to moderate democrats who have the occasion to run right and in doing so, attempt to garner a broader base of votes without really intending to stay right.  Some one may produce a photo of you in the sixties burning a flag or dancing at Woodstock.

He was born in the end zone and thought he scored a touchdown – The actual comment was attributed to President W and drew on baseball: “ he was born on third base and thought he hit a triple “ This applies to anyone who as the result of luck, birthright or impeccable timing starts with a highly advantaged situation but seems to forget this fact and behaves as if they have accomplished great things.  This analogy is often used as a pejorative political devise or a non sequitor to deflect a question about one’s opponent.

Football is America’s sport.  It has served as an important refuge for the strong, the unimaginative and those with overactive pituitary glands.  But it’s greatest gift is it’s clever metaphors which serve as a masculine lingua franca in every mental locker room across America.

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