Today I rant on a subject many know to be true, but few will utter. Most remain fearful of the associated politically correct backlash. Even The Daily Discord initially reviewed this submission and said, “Ahh, Cranko, I danno about dis one.” Who am I kidding? These schmucks will post anything.
As I am following football for a relatively short period of time and have terminal ADHD, I have not yet mastered the jargon, nor am I the armchair/Monday morning quarterback. I am an observer, and I have observed something that no one else talks much about.
You can be the world’s best quarterback, tall and handsome, with a bullet-perfect arm. You can be the most agile wide receiver, able to leap into the air for the game winning catch. You can be the special teams guy that returns the punt for a 99-yard touchdown. And yet you will garner more publicity, accolades and money than in your wildest dreams. The pundits on ESPN, the NFL channel, and sports reports everywhere will talk of you. You will be interviewed many times, and all the fans will be enamored with your smile. Today’s NFL is a testament to the leader, the overachiever, the ‘winner’. There is one glaring problem with this. It’s all bullshit.
The little dirty secret all the quarterbacks and wide receivers keep from the public is this:
they would all be nothing without the ‘beasts’ and the men with tits. Let me explain.
As any QB will tell you, when they get the ball snapped to them and they stand up, what they see is a line of ‘beasts’ all trying to kill them. What stands between them and imminent death? A line of human busses, condos with feet, fleshy brick walls. This is also why in Middle-Earth the orcs followed behind the trolls.
These unsung heroes all share one thing. There is a reason they are not often interviewed. No one will ever accuse any of them of being Mensa material. They are not verbal, and they don’t care. They don’t care what you think. They don’t care how they look on TV. They are all thankful for the opportunity to earn the kind of money most men they grew up with will never see in their lifetime. They take what they do very seriously.
The defensive line: people like The Cardinals’ Darnell Docket; people like the Ravens’ almost retired Ray Lewis; like Green Bay’s Clay Mathews; like The Texans’ JJ Watt—all human/animal hybrids who’s only calling in life is to cause the opposing quarterback monumental grief. Men with arms like our legs, and legs so big they can’t wear Corduroys without generating enough excessive static electricity to power a small city.
They also have to be agile enough to get past the offensive line. Not easy when you are big enough to be mistaken for a city bus.
The ones who get the least fanfare of any in the game are the front of the offensive line. I am talking 6′ 4″ or more, and upwards of 340 pounds. Walking barbeque vacuums. These are men for whom the term “big-ass” is a monumental understatement. These are men whose ass starts just above the back of the knee, and goes on to midway up the spine. These are men whom the quarterback has to watch consume copious amounts of wonderfully gaseous foods, and then has to stand behind while they are bent over. That cannot be a positive experience. These are men whose belly apron regularly hangs down outside their jerseys for all to see, and whose pads will never hide the hairy 44 DD’s hanging from their chests. These are men, however, that the QB entrusts with his life.
These offensive linemen will never catch the game winning touchdown pass. They will never throw the game winning pass. They will never get the big sack that turns the tide of the game. They are there for one reason and one reason only. Stop the beasts/protect the quarterback. They know what their job is and are proud to do it. They don’t look for the accolades for they know none are coming. The only time they know they will make any headlines is if they are so bad at what they do, the term ‘turnstile’ is used to describe them (see AZ Cardinals). These are the true unsung heroes of the NFL. Without them, the QB would have milliseconds to get the ball away. Again, see Arizona Cardinals. Kevin Kolb is not injured, he’s shell shocked at getting his bell rung so many fucking times he now has a permanent twitch.
Once in a great while magic will happen. Once in a while, one of those fat bastards will be in the right place at the right time. In a playoff game I watched recently, the ball got tipped by a beast as it was thrown by the QB. All of a sudden, there was a fat man standing there with the fucking football in his hand. The rest was shown many times in slow-motion.
Screaming with a look of sheer terror on his face, eyes wide open, mouth wide open, there he was, running (well, kind of running) towards the goal line. In slow-mo, you could see his ass having movements one has only seen during the tidal surge of a hurricane. You could see his tits heaving up and down below his pads, like a bizzaro-world Bay Watch slow-mo. You could see his gut alternating slapping himself in the face and hitting his knees on its wild ride into the end zone. You could see him thinking to himself, “oh please God don’t let me drop da ball, oh please God don’t let me drop da ball” as he ran to the goal line. Then, breathing like a freight train and near total exhaustion from his nearly six yard run, he held the ball out in front of him in case he dropped dead before his ass got to the line. In one glorious moment he was there. The only time this fat man will probably ever score a touchdown. He turns to the camera, and with tears in his eyes you see him mouth the words, “Mama, I jus score a touchdown!”
For one brief moment in time, he was THE man. For one brief moment in what will hopefully be a long and successful career as a brick wall, he was the agile wide receiver, scoring the game winning touchdown to a wildly cheering crowd of fans. It was a moment I’m sure he will relive in his mind every time he dons his pads and walks out onto the field and takes his place as just another silent human barrier.
Walk-a-proud fat man, walk-a-proud.