On the third day of football practice my freshman year in high school Tommy Herron hit me so hard I saw stars. Literally! The whole earth started spinning. Trees behind the practice field seemed to be falling. My helmet was twisted around my face so I was looking out the ear hole.
I had tried with all my might to tackle him. He just lowered a shoulder and plowed right into me. He was a senior...and big...and strong...and football savvy...and I don’t believe it was the first time he had had such a collision.
I kinda lost my sense of reality. People were talking but I was so addled it was just mumbo-jumbo noise. I was trying to catch my breath but there wasn’t no air. My organs kept bouncing off of each other like an out of control pin ball machine. I still have a ringing in my left ear till this day!
I thought football was throwing touchdown passes and making eighty yard runs and dating the homecoming queen...
And on that third day, having been dragged over by the fence with all my lights dimmed, I began to think this football “thing” might not be completely as advertised. I had just regained my speaking ability as we sat down for supper and was telling the family I was having some serious doubts about my football future.
Leon asked, “Did you pass out?” Well, no, at least I didn’t think so. “Shoot,” Leon had graduated the year before, his fairly stellar football career behind him, “if you were not rendered unconscious then you really didn’t get hit!”
This football gig can absolutely be a conundrum at times.
You take the college game for instance. One of The University of Alabama’s best running backs going into THIS season was Georgia Tech’s top ball carrier LAST year. Alabama also has a new wide receiver in Jermaine Burton. He caught 53 passes over the last two years...playing for the rival Georgia Bulldogs.
Common sense would tell you that couldn’t be legal!
And that’s just the beginning; USC’s starting quarterback last year is going to play for Ole Miss this season. But don’t feel sorry for USC; they’ve “picked up” a new quarterback and a talented wide receiver, both played for Oklahoma last year.
J. T. Daniels has taken snaps for USC and Georgia and is now “suited up” for West Virginia...
It’s like Chinese Checkers on steroids.
I think the official title is transfer portal. Don’t ask me how it works. You just decide you want to be somewhere else and presto...you are there! They must’a got the idea from watching old reruns of “Star Trek” where Scotty could magically beam you “from here to over yonder” in nothing flat.
I don’t know what it says about loyalty. But I’m not sure college football is about “winning one for the Gipper” anymore.
I truly can’t tell if these portal guys are searching for greener pastures, have been beaten out of their position by an incoming freshman, want to get closer to home or just like red better than blue….or green and white better than black and gold...
With as many as two thousand players entering the portal, it’s a wonder they don’t bump into each other’s beams...
And to confuse the issue even more college football players today are allowed to make money “selling” their Name, Image and Likeness to a varying degree of sponsors wanting to capitalize off the fame (or potential fame) of these athletes. This NIL business is another conundrum all to itself. And I don’t know how it works either. I can’t even start to think of a TV show with this much imagination. But there are college players inking six figure deals quicker than you can remove your finger from a hot stove.
I’m proud for them. And maybe it is high time these young athletes are monetarily compensated for filling up those college stadiums (and bringing rich TV deals to the school) week after week every fall. Listen, if some NIL deal had’a paid Leon any amount past what he started out making at Brown Shoe Company, some school would have retired his jersey by now.
I just wonder if we are still calling college football an “amateur” sport these days.
And where is all of this freedom of movement and exceptional amounts of money taking the game? It seems to me that inevitably all of the best athletes will end up at the richest schools. And you know what I mean by richest...the ones with alumni or friends who can “come up” with sponsors with the deepest pockets.
Think Texas oil money here!
I’m telling you, trying to decipher the current condition of college football feels like I’ve been run in to “all over again” by Tommy Herron!
It’s almost a game within itself...