Yeah. I mean, I'm sore all over. Parts of me hurt -- and I suppose I might be happier without the pain -- but it's the sort of pain that reminds me I spent a couple of hours doing something to cause that soreness. Something I very much love to do. Something fun and exhilarating. Something I just don't get to do very often.
And no, I don't mean sex.
I played tackle football this morning. When I showed up at the field this morning for my weekly flag football game, the guys announced they'd decided we were going to play tackle today. As if I'd object! We all figured that, with a foot of powdery snow still on the ground, the conditions were perfect for tackle. After all, when you hit the ground, it's like landing on a cushion! It's really hard to get hurt playing tackle football when you land on a soft cushion of snow instead of the hard ground.
Man, it brought back memories! I used to play tackle in the backyard growing up. I was the guy who was impossible to bring down, who carried about five other kids on my back from one end of our short field to the other in what would be the longest plays ever, each step taking forever as I slowly dragged the weight of these kids who insisted on trying to tackle me high instead of taking out my legs.
And of course, I played my senior year in high school. I wasn't very good. I was a third-stringer most of the season. However, looking at it positively, you could also say I was a back-up on one of the best high school football teams in San Diego County. And I received excellent coaching. I may not be all that good by the standards of a perennial playoff team and occasional county champion, but by neighborhood pick-up standards... Let's just say I have technique, I know what I'm doing, and it showed.
The very first play set the tone. We started on defense. The opposing team ran the ball. Their biggest guy, Stanton, tried to isolate me with a block, and briganski received the handoff and ran at me. I could tell he wanted to pick a side to run to depending on which direction I was blocked. But I played defensive line in high school, and this situation's been drilled into my head many a time. I patiently stayed with my blocker, standing my ground and keeping my shoulders squared, until the runner committed to a side. When he did, I shed my blocker and lunged at briganski, wrapping him up and bringing him down. Textbook tackle!
A play later, Stanton was handed the ball. I wrapped him up and brought him to the ground easily.
Another tackle elicited oohs from the guys. briganski tried to run at me again, but this time without the benefit of a blocker. He thought he could juke me and get around me. Big mistake. You can juke me when I'm trying to grab a flag, because those flags are easy to miss. But I'm not going to miss a body. I reach for the biggest target I can and wrap my arms around it, drive my body through it, and keep my legs churning, just like I was taught. And that's what I did. briganski went flying backwards through the air. Turns out that I missed his shoulders with my left arm and accidentally closelined him. But I made a statement. The other team couldn't run at me. I was like Mike Singletary out there, flying around, making big tackles, setting the tone on defense. The other team all but abandoned the run after that big hit on briganski.
Turner, who played QB for both teams (since we had an odd number of players), decided he wanted to get in on the action. So the other team ran a trick play where Turner pitched the ball back to Stanton and Stanton threw to Turner 10 yards downfield. Turner got his catch, but he paid the price. I left my feet, drove my left shoulder through his body, wrapped my arms around him to make sure he wasn't going anywhere, and landed on top of him as we both hit the ground. Not surprisingly, he went back to quarterbacking after that play.
There were many more tackles. And there were about three battles I lost, where I couldn't quite get my hands on the guy, or his wet snowy clothes slipped through my hands, allowing him to break free. And, alas, on offense I wasn't quite the Christian Okoye-like force I had envisioned. (On my first run, I did run over a guy who tried to take out my legs and I got a healthy gain before finally being dragged down, and I did score a touchdown later on, but I wasn't as effective running as I was tackling.)
We all had a blast. Yes, we're going to be sore, having used muscles we haven't used in a while, and having hit people, but I think we're all content and okay with the soreness, because of what we did to be sore. We're all hoping it snows next Saturday so that we can have another tackle football snow game next Sunday morning.