Monday, October 28, 2013

Football Blues

This football season has been an outright debacle for me. Please consider the following outrage:
My beloved NY Football Giants started the season a vomit-inducing 0-6.
My legendary fantasy football franchise is on the verge of its first losing season in 13 years.
My expansion flag football team just concluded its regular season at 2-8.
It’s been a real treat to get my ass kicked on Sunday mornings, followed by watching my favorite team implode in the afternoon, only to discover in the evening….that my fake lineup of digital doppelgangers also suck at football.
It all started innocently enough, as my football fortunes looked bright back in August. On paper, the Giants projected as an offensive juggernaut, flush with young playmakers, a Super Bowl MVP at quarterback, and a seasoned coaching staff. As two-time defending champs, my fantasy football squad featured stars like Arian Foster, Ray Rice, and Robert Griffin as keepers.
It’s hard to say where it all went wrong. I don’t know why Eli Manning has enjoyed throwing the football to strangers so much. I don’t know why Ray Rice has been running like a “Biggest Loser” contestant. Things just happen sometimes for no good reason.
As for my flag football team, it appeared to be staffed by a collection of eager and able-bodied athletes. Sure, I was a tad concerned by the average age of 37.6 years, but was confident that wisdom and reliability would make up for the savagery of Father Time.
It didn’t take long for my concerns to become heightened as my “star” 34 year-old tailback crumpled to the ground after one carry in our first game. It was disheartening to see the once-proud athlete limp slowly off the field with his hand on his hamstring, knowing full well his season was over the moment it started.
As the games continued on my teammates began to fall around me like we were storming the beaches of Normandy.
"My groin!” one would scream.
“My ankle! My back!” would screech more victims.
The injuries were piling up and my own body was breaking down with every snap. I shredded my right quad in the second game and essentially limped through the season ever since. My ring finger looks like the “13 Curves” after being tangled up in a pair of shorts.
Getting enough players to show up and then actually make it through the game has been a big hurdle throughout the season. After a few weeks, my roster was as reliable as the Easter Bunny on Christmas. I don’t know what that means, but I doubt that freak-show is very useful on Santa’s big day.
Maybe the biggest challenge for me has been my evolution as the team’s only viable center. Let’s just say, when I began assembling this squad in August, I wasn’t dreaming of snapping a football between my legs while simultaneously preparing for a collision with fat dudes.
Despite all this, and our record, we have held up pretty well in most games. There is one team, though, that has been a real nemesis. They have more than twenty men on their roster, mostly cocky youngsters with an apparent dislike for older men. The first time we played against them, it coincided with the start of our original center’s season-long sabbatical, meaning I would need to start snapping the ball. I wasn’t overly concerned about blocking some of the butterballs in the league, but this team presented a more disturbing challenge.
Let me take you back to our first encounter. I still can’t say for certain, as I was looking across the football field toward the parking lot, but I’m pretty sure I witnessed their team captain releasing some sort of unusually large, primate-like beast from a cage. They appeared to be guiding the mostly-upright walking phenomenon to the sideline with a chain leash.
I shrugged the development off and assumed it was just a spectator, perhaps a team mascot. We started the game on defense, and I was at ease when it remained on the sideline.
After surrendering a quick-strike touchdown, my stress level spiked as we took the field on offense. I was troubled to see the thing was lumbering toward the line of scrimmage. I prayed it was just a temporary break from his leash.
There was no such luck, as the defense drew closer it was clear the team intended to line this abomination directly over me at nose guard. I called a timeout and asked the officials to verify him for human eligibility.
“Play ball!” they shouted after giving him a brief once-over.
I wouldn’t have been so concerned if he was calling out defensive instructions like his teammates, or maybe if his eyes didn’t look so damn empty inside…the guy just lined up right on top of me.
“Hmmmm…” he grumbled, “baba…hmmmm…baba…hmmm”.
Trust me, that’s not what you want to hear from your opponent as he breathes on the base of your neck. Those aren’t human sounds.
Of course I am exaggerating just a bit, but this “kid” was 270 pounds of emotional problems. I’m not going out on a limb when I suggest he lacked a father figure growing up, as he pursued the QB with bastardly vengeance, battering and bruising my body along the way.
We tried to chip-block him with another player in the backfield, but he would just face-palm and discard any poor soul that tried to impede his progress. Needless to say, it was a difficult Sunday morning.
The good news is that the season is almost over.
We finished the regular season at 2-8 (thanks to a former college QB playing two games with us) and somehow qualify for a post-season game this Sunday.
That is a really nice way for the league administrator to tell me I need to pay $40 for one last ass-kicking.
What’s truly funny, is that our reward (should we win this playoff game) is to immediately play another game right after where I’ll get to square off against that mutant one last time.