Thursday, April 1, 2010

Football in the cold

I don't know about the rest of you, but I am sore today, Monday. My wife and I spent a good portion of our weekend, much like the rest of you I am sure, shoveling snow.
Boy was it a treat to come to work this morning and see that someone had run their plow in front of the Observer office. Thanks to whomever that was! I, and my back appreciate it.

All this snow does remind me of growing up in Fairbanks, Alaska. I can remember winters when the snow was more than 8 feet deep. Add to that the extreme cold and it makes for a whole lot of staying inside. Or does it?
My brothers, Benjamin and Dominic, and our friends Chris Moss and Mike Egan, would spend hours outside playing in the cold. Our game of choice, football.
How does one play football with only four or five people, well, let me enlighten you.

On offense, one person is the quarterback and the other person is the receiver or running back. On defense you have one lineman and one safety/corner back/line backer.
To avoid an all out blitz on the undefended quarterback, we established a count off. The defender must count aloud to 5 Mississippi. We used the Mississippi system because, well, it worked for.
Usually the person who is running or receiving takes off and tries to establish an opening against the defender within the 5 Miss. time frame. Sometimes it worked sometimes it didn't.
Tackling was different all together. We had no pads, except the layers of clothing we wore, but it didn't slow us down.
There was more than one time when I would get the best of either Benjamin or Chris and would break away from them. 

When they finally tackled me, well, it was more like tackling in the 1920s, with a lot of punching, kicking and white washing. What's white washing? Well for us that was when you grabbed a handful of snow and rubbed it all over someones face. Although it is not a pleasant feeling at any time, it is extremely unpleasant at 50 below.
Oh, the other very important factor about super cold weather football. Use a NERF ball. When it is that cold the soft ball feels as hard as a leather one. Do not use a leather football. It will freeze and the likelihood of a broken finger greatly increases, or at least I would think it does.
We would play for more than an hour. When we were done, we would go inside, shed our wet gear and settle in for a late night of cards.
Looking back on it I wonder how in the world we would do it. It was cold! It was really cold! Now, when the temperature gets close to zero I start thinking to myself, "Man! It's cold!" When my boys ask me if they can go out and play my response tends to be, "Are you crazy! It is cold out there!"
Guess I should remember the days of football before I tell them no next time.
Anyway, hope everyone is staying warm, and their backs are holding up!