Thursday 13 - Football edition

Posted: Thursday, November 30, 2006 by Travis Cody in
16

**unable to load the Thursday 13 code properly into his blog, Travis just posts them, knowing that soon he'll have a brand new laptop and will be able to do all the cool things that other bloggers have learned to do**

So my 13 today is about football. But it’s about me and football. I haven’t thought of some of these things in a long time. Some I’m only now remembering. I had to give up the game 26 years ago, in the fall of 1980 after a devastating knee injury. But I loved – still love – everything about my experiences with the game I started playing when I was 7 years old. I only had 9 years to play, but it’s in me and it’s part of me forever.

I’m a football player – always was, always will be.


1. Gear – My first football helmet was too big and slipped over my eyes. My shoulder pads were almost as big as I was. There were lots of ties and buckles and straps. Hip pads, thigh pads, knee pads. When I got it all strapped and tied. . .I was so excited because I was gonna play football. I eventually grew into all that equipment. But that first time, putting it all on – a memory for the ages.

2. Tackling – It’s not as easy as you might think. You have to have good balance and keep your knees loose and your feet moving. Your shoulders need to be square to the ball carrier. You have to be aware of blockers in your path. And you have to keep your eye on the target. Then you power yourself into the hit, driving with your legs, hitting with the center of your shoulder pads, keeping your head up, wrapping up with your arms, and using all your strength to push the ball carrier through the ground. Yeah – that’s right. I said through the ground.

3. Practice – A lot about the game is muscle memory. You drill and you drill and you drill, and when you think you have it down, you drill some more just to make sure. Instinct drives a lot, but if you rely on your athletic ability and your talent alone, other guys will catch you up. Your technique has to be sound or you can get hurt.

4. Coaches – I was lucky. My coaches were all good men who taught me the right way to do things. And not just about football. They were my mentors and my heroes and my leaders. They taught me a lot about being a man.

5. Teammates – My teammates were my brothers. They knew me, and I knew them, like no one else could. We looked each other in the eye. We were responsible to and for each other.

6. Homecoming – The night of nights. We always got shanghaied on Homecoming Tuesday morning. The cheerleaders decorated our lockers with our names and numbers. The moms would prepare our team meal on Homecoming Thursday evening. The dads would square away all our gear in the locker room before the game. We won all of our Homecoming games.

7. Making big plays in a big game – I was fortunate to have my best game my senior year against our biggest rival. I had 9 solo tackles and assisted on a bunch more. I sacked the QB 4 times because they couldn’t block me on the safety blitz. I intercepted 3 passes and ran one back for a TD. I recovered a fumble. I felt light years faster than anyone else on the field that night. And we won the game, the only win I experienced against our rivals.

8. Rallies – I was a defensive captain my senior year and I got to make a little speech on Senior Day. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but we got the whole school roaring for us. We were coming off our biggest win in the history of the school against our biggest rival. I was feeling indestructible.

9. School Spirit – My high school did not have a great football program. My teams were 25-19 through my 4 years. We never went to the playoffs. But I always remember students going to games. Our marching band was one of the top in the state. They marched at halftime, and the pep band went to away games with us. We put students in the stands for away games too. And my coaches made us all go to band competitions, which we ended up enjoying so much that we went to a bunch of shows without being required to go. Funny – bunch of jocks wearing their jerseys and making a righteous noise for the marching band.

10. Recruiting – I had four scholarship offers from west coast schools. It’s nerve-wracking to have scouts in the stands and know that they came to watch you.

11. Senior Night – The last home game was the last game of my last high school season. Senior Night. I remember Mom proudly wearing my away jersey. She was so small standing next to me on the field. I heard my name over the loudspeaker, and then they introduced my mom, and she pulled the front of my jersey so I leaned down toward her. She whispered in my ear, “It don’t matter”. That’s what I always wrote on a piece of paper and tucked inside my spikes. She reminded me that night that it didn’t matter that my father was never there, and that he’d chosen never to see me play.

12. Pain – There aren’t any words I know to describe what it felt like to have my left knee caved in. I was lined up strong side, and my key was the full back. I knew it was a draw and I knew I was clear to force the play. Two seconds after the ball was snapped, the wide receiver came down from my blind side and went low. I never saw him because he wasn’t supposed to block me on that play. It was a draw – I know it was because I’d seen it all week in practice. There were barely two minutes to play in the game. Two minutes in my high school career. Two minutes until I had to start really thinking about my future – play football in college and get an education, or go into the Corps and get an education. Two minutes. I never saw the kid.

13. Sportsmanship – I knew it was over. No football in college. No Marine Corps. I knew. My left knee was in pieces and my right knee was dislocated. It took 15 minutes to splint both legs. My teammates were in tears, my coaches were in tears, I was in tears. The kid who hit me was on his knees not far from me and I could hear him sobbing and saying over and over that he was sorry. When they lifted me onto the gurney, he came over and put his hand on my shoulder. Plenty of guys play the game as if it were life or death. I had some of that mentality. But knowing that the kid was emotionally devastated by the play – well, that gave me something else to think about. I couldn’t blame him – not in the way I wanted to. My lessons of sportsmanship were too well learned.

I don’t mean this to be a downer of a 13. But this is all football to me. And I’m glad I can remember it again.

16 comments:

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow, Trav! For some reason, although I knew you love football, this came as a surprise to me. Actually very interesting (although I don't understand American football rules)

  1. julie says:

    **blinks back tears**

    **sighs**

  1. Anonymous says:

    Now I know exactly WHY you loved the cheerleader thing that I wrote about...LMOO

  1. Anonymous says:

    OK.. the first 10 were very interesting for those of us who never experienced it
    The last three tell me more about you then I even knew before.
    I love the note in the shoe. I can imagine not wanting to watch your kid play.
    The block sounds a tad illegal in today's game, the result why it is..your reaction ...pure Travis.

    Thank you my friend for letting us read that.

  1. Diana says:

    Trav,

    You've grown to be an incredible man with heart, courage and passion. The note was a lovely gesture and it is something I can relate to as I had a similar practice in another area of my life.

    Decorates Trav's locker, with his name on it, cooks him (okay buys)some game food and cheers him on!

    Hugs!

  1. Travis says:

    Coco: Coach Trav says now worries about the rules. It's a bunch of big guys running around in pads and smashing into each other, living for the moment when we can raise our hands and yell Touchdown!!!

    Julie: **hands Julie community snotrag**

    Dixie: Yeppers!!

    Bond: Thank you sir. Back when I played, crackbacks were legal. Lots of guys go through life like me because of it.

    Di: Woooo!! A homecoming meal!!

  1. Anonymous says:

    It's really nice you tell us more about you.
    I can see you really FEEL what you write!
    Very likeable!!!

    Happy TT from Germany,
    Sonny

    http://sweetlikekitty.blogspot.com

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for stopping by Trav =)

    I love football and loved this list!

  1. tiggerprr says:

    Thanks for stopping by my list. What a cool thing about the note, and I can't even imagine not being there for your kid...you know, the whole "you gotta have a license to drive...but anyone can have a child" thing.

    It's crazy how everything in a person's life can turn on a dime, and how perspective can change as fast too.

    You sound like a cool person and I'll be reading more of your site. :)

  1. I love this post. I can feel your love for the game in every word. Happy TT!

  1. Travis says:

    Thanks and welcome to new readers Sweet Kitty, Starrlight, Tigerprrr, and Joely.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Coach Trav forgot to tell Coco that guys who run around have cute hineys in their uniforms..

    Thank you for reminding me why I loved the game so much and had some of the most memorable and wonderful moment of my life when I was a cheerleader.

    Love you Brother...

  1. Anonymous says:

    Your 13 was not a downer... I prefer these types of 13's to the "13 things I ate today" kind . Childhood makes who we are today, but we can choose to change what ever we want. Thats why I love to read stories that contribute to what a person has become as an adult.

    I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, it made me a little nostalgic. :O) I only played football once or twice in my life. One time was in a "powderpuff" football game my senior year. I got my second black eye from that game, lol.

    Thanks for visiting my 13.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Trav..you aren't the only one who hasn't mastered the code. I know html codes and i havent put it up yet! I'm too lazy, ha! You have a very lovely list. I can remember football season in high school. Football games and homecoming week always brought the students together. Much love sweetie!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Um...great, Trav.

    I like the hineys on the football players.

  1. jennifer says:

    Had time today and had to come back over and read this link. And Jen cried too. Ah man. It must have hurt when you wrote about it too. I'm sorry.

    Jennifer