In fact, any day from September to December probably reminds me of football.It’s possibly my favorite thing in the entire world, and watching Denver Broncos games on Sundays is handled in the same way Christians attend church.But since, apparently, all my memories are from before my 18th birthday, the memory of the day I seemingly lost our high school team the biggest game of 1996 is one that sticks out in my mind, and still haunts me to this day, probably because people still don’t let me forget about it.
I had the envious job of kicking for my high school football team.We weren’t really all that good, but during my senior year, my team was tied with our arch rival for the division lead (if I recall, I could be overdramatizing this).Of course, our rivalry game would decide who won the division, and sadly for us, our fate was tied directly into a last second kick…and more notably, my right foot.Naturally, we lost.I don’t want to sound dramatic and say that moment defined my high school career, it didn’t, but it sure was mentioned enough.Even years later, after I was done with college, random strangers would still conjure the memory as if I personally affected their lives. And, no, I didn't grow up under Friday Night Lights or anything like that.
Now, I am a person who will gladly admit his faults.God knows I have a ton.But that moment, that kick?Not actually my fault.I’ll explain:
The day before that anticipated game,it rained. A lot.And the field the game was played on?Complete shit.In fact, by the end of the game, there was no grass left on the field.That’s not hyperbole; the once green area was just left a muddy mess. Like 100 yards of diarrhea. THICK mud that was nearly impossible to run in, which is probably why the score remained 0-0 till overtime.
Once we reached OT, our rivals scored and converted their extra point fairly quickly.We answered their score, so suddenly the fate of our team, the division, and our pride was put directly into my hands (or feet).Now, let me tell you something about Brett under pressure …
And to add insult to injury, during the touchdown that lead to the oncoming extra point, some kid from our rival team got paralyzed or something. Seriously. Well, actually, I can’t recall exactly what happened to him, but he must have been on the ground for 15 years while we waited for medics to cart him off the field.During this time, some fat turd from the other team kept reminding me of the moment, not so politely asking me to miss the kick so his team could win.
Now, let me tell you something about high school football that, I’m sure, no one in the crowd knew.When we kicked extra points and field goals, we did so with the aid of a kicking block.
You vicious bitch
See that?It’s a good inch or so off the ground and slopes in the back.Now, let’s recall a few factors:
1)The field was muddy as hell.(remember my charming diarrhea imagery)
2)We use the kicking block during extra points
(though that fact actually doesn’t come into play, for once.)
Our center, we’ll call him Matt, was very talented at snapping the ball and did so with incredible velocity.So once the extra point finally went into motion, he snapped the ball with such force (and a tad too high), that when the holder rushed to place the tip of the ball against the block for me to strike, it SLIPPED down the slope and settled partly into the mud.Got that?
So, what happens when you try to kick a ball in the mud with a rubber block in front of it?Well, it goes about 3 feet off the ground, directly into the stomach of the fat shit who was taunting me only minutes earlier.Extra point was no good, we lose the game, Brett deserves to die. You know, the natural progression.
Needless to say, no one was happy.Matt actually punched out the bus window on the way home, though I didn’t feel particularly bad for Matt considering he treated me like absolute shit since the day I’d met him.Did I hold the grudge then? Duh. Do I hold it now? I do. Why?I dunno, I’m Jewish?
As a side note, I didn’t know the following rule:After you miss a kick to lose a big game, you have to be miserable for, at least, the remainder of the day.Really miserable.It’s true.You must mope around and apologize to everyone in the entire world for letting them down.In fact, you’re not even allowed to smile for the rest of the night (this is my friend Sean’s favorite part of the story.)How do I know this?Because Rob Stout’s mother caught me smiling on the way to the bus after the game.She was SO distraught by my decision to smile that she told her son, in hushed tones, that I had broken these sacred rules.The next day Rob spoke of my indiscretion to the entire team, as if a simple smile proved that I didn’t care, when I should have.Truth is, I have no clue what I smiled at, but I assume I did. Smiling is my defense mechanism after all....not to mention, WHO GIVES A FUCK IF I SMILED.
I wonder if he cares that I’ve smiled more times since.
Anyway, 14 years later, I still replay that moment while in the shower, wondering how life might have been different had I made the kick.Actually, it wouldn’t have been different at all; in fact, it would have given me one less story to tell.