Sports

It all started as early as Monday. It was a cold, dark New England fall and a school from Western Massachusetts was coming to play us under the lights. This team, usually pretty easy to beat, was off to an unusually good start and our coaches attributed this mostly to a new player, a giant Native American defensive end our coaches called the “Big Native American”.

 

They told us the Big Native American was over six feet six inches tall and weighed upwards of three hundred pounds. He was enormous, not from the same planet as us young, undersized lineman that would have to try to block him. Our practices were focused on recreating the impact this giant would have on the game we would play that week. The scout team players would hold their blocking pads high in the air to double their own size in hopes of mimicking the massive size of the giant Native American.

 

Our coaches, mostly leather jacketed hipsters from the English Department, found new and creative ways to describe the enormity of this monster we were going to face. They told us, in exquisite detail, how the Big Native American would destroy each of us, run us over like pubescent speed bumps.

The coaching took hold, we became obsessed with this horrifying mythical creature. I jotted drawings of this massive beast in the sides of my notebook during class. The night game could not come soon enough, or maybe it was coming too soon. Finally Friday night came, the whole school was there, the field illuminated like a massive stage.

Our team got the ball first and it quickly became apparent that this team was not much different than they had been in the past. Even the Big Native American wasn’t as fearsome as we had been led to believe, more a oversized lumbering teenager  then a menacing football destroyer.  We easily moved the ball down the field on them and were close to scoring. The play that came in was a pass play with a novel blocking scheme. The tackle on my side would block down towards the guy over me and I would pull around his back and be one on one with the defensive end on that side – the end who was more myth than player, the Big Native American himself.

The only thing standing between our quarterback, the potential success of this play, this game, and utter destruction at the hands of the giant, was me. Not only did I have to stop the Big Native American, but if possible I had to take him to the ground so that he couldn’t use his towering height to disrupt our quarterback’s passing lanes. The ball was snapped, I got up in a semi crouch and swiveled around towards the left side of the formation. Bearing down on our backfield, unblocked up until this point, was the Giant Native American. He was all I could see, hours of worry and excitement distilled into one humongous streaking flash. I was running at him as fast as I could and when I got close enough I launched my entire body squarely at his front leg.

My body hit his front leg dead on and he collapsed like a felled sequoia tree, slowly and deliberately.  We easily scored a touchdown and I got up and celebrated with my teammates, jumping up and down and screaming. It was only after the brief celebration, as we were lining up for the extra point that I noticed that the Big Native American was still collapsed on the ground clutching the knee on his front leg. He would have to be helped up and off the field by four of his smaller coaches and teammates, to watch our team run the score up against his team while he leaned on his new crutches. I felt bad for him.