Tag Archives: Football

A Feeling in the Air

29 Jul

I am sitting on the back porch, and, for the first time this year, there is a special feeling in the air. There is a crispness that hits as soon as you walk out the door. The sky looks differently. The breeze feels differently. It is a special feeling that hits suddenly.

Yep, it feels like football.

Coincidentally, my favorite team, the University of Tennessee Volunteers, begin practice today. Last season, the team did not reach the heights that everyone expected. This year, the fans I know have dampened expectations. However, it is always exciting to know that the season is just a few weeks away.

I grew up going to Tennessee games with my dad and have been raised in the traditions of the program. I have cheered them through great triumphs and suffered through the doldrums of losing seasons. I guess that is what fans are supposed to do.

As a historian who is also a fan of sports, I have tried to connect the two and understand why football is important to us. In my opinion, it has passed baseball as America’s favorite pastime. I have this theory that the seeds of football’s popularity began when the nation felt that the westward frontier was conquered.

For generations, the nation captured land in the West. This movement led to the notion that young men could become men by taking part in that pursuit. You know, “Go West, Young Man” and all of that. Once the land was taken, how was a young man supposed to prove himself?

He could do it in a sport that was a smaller version of the same thing. Football is all about gaining land 10 yards at a time until it is finally conquered by getting to its end. The game is all about field position and moving forward while an opposing force is trying to prevent that.

Does that not sound like westward expansion?

It was also safer. Doing battle on a football field was better than being in a pitched battle against Native Americans. You could not get killed on the football field.

Except, you could get killed on the football field. It happened all of the time in the early days of college football. It happened to the extent that the sport almost came to an end. It took rule changes to increase safety to save it.

Now, we are learning that it is still not safe. People may not die on the field, but playing football greatly affects life after the game is over. That effect is no longer banged up knees, crooked fingers and stiff necks. It affects the brain to an extent that ruins life and often proves fatal.

This feeling in the air brings excitement for the next football season. I, like millions of others, will attend games and cheer for our players, but what are we really doing? We are watching men brutalize their bodies for glory and for the shot at fortune.

Football is a sport that I love, but it is also a sport that needs to change. In the early days, they changed the rules to save it, and that will need to happen again. I will continue to watch the games. However, if I had a son I would not let him play.

Things I Think

25 Mar

I think…

the speed limit means that you can actually go that speed.

cracks in concrete are canyons for ants.

Escape from New York is the best movie Kurt Russell ever made.

the Jessi Colter and Waylon Jennings version of “Suspicious Minds” is almost as good as the Elvis version.

the iPhone is the most addictive drug in the world.

that only rocks live forever.

the Freedom of Speech is under attack from people who only want to what they want to hear.

more people need to like history.

John Wayne and Clint Eastwood should have made a Western together.

people who are famous for no reason should lose their fame immediately.

people who throw chewing gum on the ground should have chewing gum stuck on them.

trees communicate with each other.

a remake of Escape from New York is a bad idea.

married life is a great life.

football, my favorite sport to watch, will one day be banned.

truffled macaroni and cheese is terrible.

I need to buy more vinyl.

reality television is the worst form of entertainment ever invented.

chairs are better than couches.

blogging is awesome.

 

Bad Football and a Musical Complaint

7 Nov

Lately, I have watched some bad football. The Tennessee Titans leave a lot of be desired. The season of the Tennessee Volunteers has gone from great promise to a quagmire. I am also reading a book about an infamous game in the history of Cumberland University. For those who do not know, our school lost to Georgia Tech 222-0. It is the biggest defeat in the history of college football.

Sam Hatcher, who I have known for years, wrote a book to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the game. Heisman’s First Trophy: The Game that Launched Football in the South is an interesting read that provides a great story of the game. I would recommend it to anyone. Some of it is fictionalized, but the heart of the story remains true.heisman-book

I have been surrounded by bad football, but I have also witnessed some bad halftime performances. The University of Tennessee Marching Band is known as the Pride of the Southland, and they have been performing something called the “Circle Drill” for 50 years. I know that because they announced  that this year is the 50th anniversary of the routine. Certainly, it is a difficult marching formation to perform, but I have one request.

PLAY SOME NEW SONGS!

I have been watching the “Circle Drill” for 42 of the 50 years that it has been in existence, and they have played the same songs the entire time. I can even recite the announcer’s script.

They do a musical tour of Tennessee by starting out in Memphis. That is when they play Elvis Presley’s “signature” tune “C.C. Rider.” Then, they go to Chattanooga with “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” Next is a visit to Nashville with “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” They end up in Knoxville with “Rocky Top,” the school’s unofficial fight song.

I understand “Rocky Top.” It fires up the crowd and needs to be played. However, it is time to spruce up the rest of the collection. Tennessee is one of the most musical places around. I know they can do better.

First, “C.C. Rider” is not the “signature” song of Elvis Presley. I guarantee that if you ask anyone to name and Elvis song that one would not be mentioned. I would choose “Hound Dog.” Here is the other thing. Elvis was not the only creator of songs in Memphis. What about doing a Tina Turner songs? Or an Isaac Hayes song? What about a Blues classic or something from Stax Records?

I know that “Chattanooga Choo Choo” is an obvious selection for Chattanooga. However, they could throw the crowd a curve with “Chattanooga City Limit Sign” by Johnny Cash. How about “Lookout Mountain” by Drive-By Truckers?

Nashville, otherwise known as Music City, is home to hundreds of artists and thousands of songs. I think they can find a new one. “Nashville Cats” by The Lovin’ Spoonful would be a great pick. Heck, they could shock the world by playing a Jimi Hendrix tune. It would work since he spent his early days in the clubs on Nashville’s Jefferson Street. I cannot even do this paragraph justice. There are so many songs to play that they could close their eyes and pick one out of a songbook.

Better yet, they could get the band from Tennessee State University to do the “Circle Drill.” I know the Aristocrat of Bands and the Sophisticated Ladies could circle it up.

A Witness to Miracles

25 Aug

Football season is upon us, and, like all fans, I am anxious to see what my teams are going to do. I have been lucky enough to attend a ton of games. Many of them have faded from memory, but a lot of them stand out for their drama and excitement. Of those, I can think of three that were gridiron miracles where my team pulled victory from the jaws of defeat.

The first took place 1991. The University of Tennessee traveled to South Bend, Indiana to play Notre Dame, and I traveled with them. I have already written about The Miracle at South Bend and will not repeat myself. Just know that the Volunteers were down 31-7 with a few seconds left in the first half. They came roaring back to win 35-34 and ruin a pretty good day by Jerome Bettis, who was just inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame.

The second miracle transpired in 1998. The Volunteers had made it through the first eight games without a loss and were ranked at the top of the polls. However, the Razorbacks from the University of Arkansas came to Knoxville with the same record.

Tennessee was outclassed for most of the game and were in trouble. Arkansas had the lead and the ball with a little over a minute to go. They were running out the clock, and over 100,000 people were stunned. Then, the miracle happened.

Clint Stoerner, the Arkansas quarterback, stumbled and dropped the ball.Fumble

The Tennessee defense recovered, and the offense drove the field to win 28-24. The Volunteers went on to win the rest of the games and the national championship.

January 8, 2000 was a cold day in Nashville, but the city was hot with excitement. The Tennessee Titans had a great first season and were hosting an AFC Wild Card game. Yep, the NFL playoffs were in Tennessee. The Buffalo Bills were here, too.

The game saw both offenses struggle, but Buffalo was up 16-15 after a field goal in the waning seconds. The next play would become one of the most famous in NFL history.

The Bills pooched the kickoff into the hands of Lorenzo Neal, who pitched it to Frank Wycheck. Then, he three the ball across the field to Kevin Dyson, who streaked 75 yards for the touchdown.Music City

The crowd was going wild as they realized he was going to score. Except, I was just standing there.

My seat straddled the line where Wycheck threw the ball, and I thought it was an illegal forward pass. The play would be called back, and the Titans playoffs would come to an end. However, the official was not in position to see the forward pass, and the play could not be overturned. The Music City Miracle was in the books.

It was a great play that propelled the Tennessee Titans to the Super Bowl, and everyone in Nashville is convinced that it was a legal play. I am still not sure. I am just glad that the official was still running to his position when Frank Wycheck threw the ball.

Those are my three football miracles. Through the years, hundreds of thousands of people have claimed to be at those games, but I can honestly say that I was a witness to the miracles.

What about you? Have you been in the stands to see miracles happen on fields of play?

Which Witch is Which

7 Feb

The other night, we, like a ton of other people, went to a Super Bowl party. It was a fun gathering with great food and great friends. As often happens, I learned a few things while I was there.

First, people at Super Bowl parties do not watch the Super Bowl. During the game, they eat, talk, mingle and all sorts of other things. I was guilty of this because I did not care who won the game. It was background music for what was happening within the room. However, the same people got quiet and paid attention to the halftime show.

In short, I learned that a lot of people watch a concert and a football game breaks out.

Secondly, I learned that Katy Perry, the halftime performer, is a witch. At least, this is what folks on social media were saying. Of course, that would be a pretty sharp turn for someone who used to be a Christian singer and likes to dance with Jabberjaw.Shark

A halftime show being performed by a witch follows a line of Super Bowl halftime shows that sent dark forces through our television screens.

Madonna’s performance was designed by the Illuminati and announced the arrival of the Antichrist. If you do not believe it, then look around the Internet. It is all right there.

Not to be outdone, Beyonce’s performance was also filled with Illuminati symbolism. I am not sure what message they were trying to get across, but Beyonce did all she could to get everyone’s attention. Heck, she even knocked out the lights, which allowed the field to be brought from the dark to the light. Illuminati was written all over it.

With all of the symbolism during these shows, I wonder if they used the symbol himself, Prince. That purple guitar has to mean something.

To honor Katy Perry’s witchiness and all of these performers for their service to the dark forces, here are a few of my favorite witches.

Samantha Stevens – She tried to hide her powers, but they always saved the day.Bewitched

However, I do not understand why someone with her skills did not notice when her husband turned into another person.

Stevie Nicks – My favorite witch of all time.Stevie

The dressed like a witch. She sang about witches. She is the coolest witch of all time.

The Bell Witch – I have to include some local lore. I will not go into the entire story, but she is the only witch to be officially recognized by the United States government.Bell Witch

Any kid who grows up in Tennessee knows that you never stand in front of a mirror and say her name three times.

Broom Hilda – We had a high school teacher that we called Broom Hilda.Broom Hilda

It was not nice, but she earned it.

Melisandre – Anyone who watches Game of Thrones knows all about her.Melisandre

She can convince kings to burn people at the stake, and she can give birth to smoke monsters.

Rhea of the Coos – There cannot be a list of witches without including one created by Stephen King.Rhea

The Dark Tower series is filled with dangerous characters, but Rhea of the Coos is one of the most dangerous.

The Witch – She does not need a name. She only needs her feminine ways to lure Conan the Barbarian into her lair.Conan

He threw her into a fire, but she came a lot closer to killing him than James Earl Jones ever did.

Marie Laveau – She was the Witch Queen of New Orleans and was said to remain forever young. Redbone recorded a great song about her, and people visit her grave.Marie

I have been there and drawn three X’s on her tomb. That is supposed to wake her up to offer some black magic help for anyone who needs it.

There are plenty of more witches out there casting spells and dancing in the woods. I wonder which one the Illuminati will get to perform at next year’s Super Bowl.

The Future Preacher and the Bomb Threat

15 Oct

This weekend, we went to a wedding, and, as we made our way through the celebration, a blog post worked its way through my mind. It was about how women love weddings and get excited about every aspect of them, but men would just as soon be somewhere else. It was going to continue with the idea that weddings are to women like football games are to men.

For example, I have never understood why someone would get married in the Fall because it is in the middle of football season. Even if it is on a weekend when your team is not playing, your team might be playing on a future anniversary. Why cause that future conflict when there are tons of other weekends to get married on?

When I say that, my wife looks at me like I am insane. How can anyone place a football game over a wedding? It is because women and men view things differently. Football only takes place on certain dates at a certain time of year. People can get married on any day.

Anyway, I decided not to write that post because it would probably be stereotypical, sexist, not funny and argument-inducing. Instead, I am going to write about the preacher at the wedding.

The preacher and I went to high school together, and, although he was a class or two behind me, we worked in the principal’s office together. During our free period, we hung out in the office to answer the phone, run errands and do whatever else needed doing.

One afternoon, the office was packed with people. Parents were there to get kids out of school. Students were there because they had gotten sent to the principal’s office for getting in trouble. The phone was ringing off the hook. The future preacher was working the counter, and I was answering the phone. That is when I heard a voice say:

Bomb threat.

What did you say?

Bomb threat.

Then, he hung up.Bomb

There was a protocol when something like this happened. First, we were not supposed to say anything in front of other people. That is especially true when there is an office full of them. Second, we are supposed to immediately tell the principal. However, there was a problem. The principal was in a high level meeting with his assistants and members of the school board. One assistant principal, who in another life would have been an evil witch queen, made it clear that they were not to be interrupted. This was my chance to interrupt them.

I went to the office and knocked on the door before opening it. The assistant principal glared at me and asked:

What are you doing in here?

I ignored her and spoke straight to the principal. I explained that there had been a bomb threat. He told me to go back out and that he would take care of it. I am certain his plan was to wait until near the end of the class period. That way less class time would be interrupted. This was in the days before bomb threats were deemed all that serious, and it was probably a student playing a prank.

I shut the door and walked back to the main office. That is when I saw the future preacher with the phone in his hand and a shocked look on his face. Before I could stop him, he blurted out:

Bomb threat.

Apparently, the guy called back. Everyone in the office started scurrying around. The parents were freaking out, and the students were joining in.

I just turned around and went back to the meeting. I knocked on the door and opened it. The assistant principal glared at me and asked:

What are you doing here?

I ignored her and spoke straight to the principal. I explained that there had been another call, and everyone in the main office knew about it. He rolled his eyes and got on the loud-speaker. A few minutes later, everyone in the school was walking to the football field.

The story had a happy ending. The school did not blow up. People were able to get out of class for a few minutes. I got the chance to bother the assistant principal. A lot of that was made possible by the future preacher who performed the wedding this weekend. That would be the same wedding that made a lot of women excited. You would have thought it was a football game or something.

 

Venturing Into Oklahoma

12 Sep

This weekend, I am heading to Oklahoma to see my team, the University of Tennessee Volunteers, play the University of Oklahoma Sooners. It is always fun to go to a new stadium and see the traditions of other schools. I am sure it will be interesting to experience how they do things.Oklahoma

Hopefully, my team will make a good show of things. They are in a rebuilding mode, and Oklahoma is a powerhouse. That is not a formula for success, but you never know what might happen.

While we are there, we may get the chance to do a few other things. It has been years since I visited the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. On top of that, we have to visit the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame. We know a few of the inductees, and, many years ago, we played in a national tournament on their fields. We did not fare well in that athletic event.

Anyway, I will return with stories of adventure and, hopefully, athletic glory for the team in orange.