Last night I went to the “Friday Night Lights” with Michael and The Rocket. There was a huge turnout for the scrimmage in crowd size and recruits. It was a great way to spend a cold Friday night, some Aggie football and two awesome friends.
As we sat in awe of what these guys could do on the football field, I thought about my days on the gridiron. So let me back up a few years to my 7th grade year. I was a little pudgy, I was slow, I wasn’t an athlete, but the coaches thought “Well he’s here, might as well let him play.” I was on the “B-Team,” and if you don’t know what that is, it’s all of the scrubs that weren’t athletic, but still wanted to play football. It was like The Replacements. Anyway, I started on offense, defense, kickoff, kickoff return, punt, and punt return. I was pretty good, but being good on the B-Team is like saying you can do Hokey Pokey better than Christopher Reeve.
The A-Team was full of all the guys that were (in my eyes) naturally good at football. They were stronger, faster, and just plain better than all of the B-Team people. During practice, the A-Team would slaughter the B-Team to the point that we had to stop practice to drag a guy off the field he was hurt so bad. It was miserable, but when grades came out after the first 6 weeks of school, some of the super humans on the A-Team (and some of the idiots on B-Team) had to leave, and the whole squad combined.
We’d all practice together, but the majority of the first team people were A-Team squad, so my playing time went down to zero after grades came out. The coach for the Junior High teams was Coach Billings. He was a super ass. He yelled at us, he would spit on us, and he had the most jacked up teeth in the world. It was hell to deal with him. Everyone hated him.
Anyway, we had a game against the Mexia Blackcats one Thursday night. These guys were good and it was a butt whooping like we’ve never seen before. We played scared, and as punishment for the A-Team people, Coach Billings would put the B-Team people out there to quote “Let [them] know how it feels to lose [their] spot to a guy on the B-Team.”
Ouch, coach, we’re only standing right here with all our parents in the stands.
It’s about the middle of the 4th quarter and Coach Billings calls a timeout to yell at a guy who we will call “David Runner.” Well David was a so call “superstar athlete” that would go on to be on the varsity squad because he was “just that good.” This guy was awful. His brother was good 5 years ago so everyone thought he was just the same. He was a wimp, a coward, and anything you could think of to describe a person that was scared to hit someone on the football field. He would make excuses on why he didn’t do well in anything. I slipped. I was held. I got chop blocked. All lies he would tell.
As Coach is yelling at David, he grabs me and says “How you feel if Newberry here goes out on the field and takes your spot? He’s on the B-Team and probably doesn’t even know how to play! Runner, get your butt on the bench and watch! Newberry get out there and don’t embarrass me!”
I was mad that Coach said all those things about me, but the silver lining was I was getting to play. So I go out there where Runner usually stood. The guy across the ball for Mexia was much bigger than I was. I felt a knot in my stomach come up. I’ve made an enormous mistake, but I was out there to prove Coach Billings wrong even if it meant a trip to the Emergency Room and possibly the morgue.
On the snap of the ball, I just ran as hard as I could at this guy. Everything slowed down. I felt like I was in another world. For a moment, the guy from Mexia and I locked eyes. Two warriors in the heat of battle with the same goal in mind: destroy this guy. It seemed like an eternity, but then I saw it, the fear in his eyes, he was just as afraid of me as I was of him. He tried to block me, but I was too fast for him. I ran right by him right into the quarterback for a sack on the play! I went ballistic. I, at that moment, was the greatest football player to ever play football at Fairfield Junior High. I listened for the loud speaker to call out and say “J. Newberry sacks the quarterback for loss on the play.”
David Runner on the sack.
I was crushed, but I lined up again for the next play. All the poetic stuff that just happened happened again. I was too fast, ran right by the blocker, and another sack on the play! Again, I was the greatest player to ever wear the Maroon and Gold of the Fairfield Eagles. I was better than Tony Brackens, Winfred Tubbs, and Louis Cheek put together. (Only Fairfield people may get this).
David Runner on the sack.
I could not believe it. I had two sacks that didn’t even go down in the history books. Coach Billings called another timeout, not to congratulate me, but to put David Runner back into the game. I never even got acknowledged for my efforts out on the field in the 48-0 loss.
I still hate you, Coach Billings.