Live action: No helmet and pads required 20 years later

in #weekend10 months ago

I stopped playing American Football around the year 2000 after ten years of playing.

I began as an outside line backer with my main aim being to brutalise ball-carriers, and after a couple years playing that position started playing full back, carrying the ball, and trying to avoid getting brutalized by defensive players. How the wheel turns huh? I was ok at it, scored some touch downs, made the state team and had some highs and lows. I loved it.

I stopped due to injuries and operations and missed it a great deal - It had been the main focus of my life for so long and stopping left me feeling a bit aimless.

I coached for a while but hated that as I wanted to be on the field, and then stopped going to games and watching on TV altogether. It's been almost 20 years.

Last week I ran into a guy who used to play on my team, the Spartans, at the supermarket. He told me he's the assistant coach at one of the teams now and asked me to come down and watch a game on Saturday. That's today and I am here, watching that game.

I feel sort of odd you know? Watching the game I still feel like I could put on the pads and helmet and go crush it but in reality, at almost 50, well I probably can't. Still, it's been good to watch the lads duke it out on the field - Even if it's less brutal than I recall. It's all safe and controlled now it seems. Back in my day, it wasn't. I think the skills are not as good either, maybe a by-product of some of those more experienced coaches I used to play under getting old and leaving the sport.

I'm watching two teams I used to play against and later there's another game between the Spartans, my old team, and the Chiefs which I will stay to have a look at.

I'm sort of enjoying it, but in truth I don't know if I'll be back anytime soon - I guess watching the sport isn't as interesting or fun as playing it. At least I have VIP sideline access though huh?

I hope you're all deploying a great Saturday!

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Thanks for share your weekend memories

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Interesting that you think the skill levels have dropped. I wonder if in some sense that is also because of the increased safety measures and protection of players

Yes, it is definitely due to that risk-averse-ethos the league have had to apply.

I was speaking to the president of the league today, who recognised me from all those years ago, about this very thing. It is a consideration they need to make these days but back in my day it was pretty much anything goes.

Also, the coaching staff is much younger, those who have grown up in this new softer era and so their coaching style promotes a more safe environment.

When I played I'd get my knees injected with cortisone each week, take pain killers like Tic Tac's and do whatever was required to make it on the field. When on the field none of us took prisoners. These days I'm told that does not happen. Any of it.

Having said that, there were some good plays and it was a reasonable game to watch. There were loads of penalties, a by-product of lack of skill and discipline, and some clumsy play, but overall it was ok.

I was talking to my ex-team-mate who now coaches and both of us agreed that we couldn't pull the pads back on, no matter how much we would like. The fitness required and recovery-time precludes us, but the skills are still there, meaning we have them and could hone them once more. Not to be though.

Thanks for your response - Was a nice reply to get as you have clearly thought about it. Much appreciated.

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 10 months ago Reveal Comment