My Award-Winning Football Career

…and welcome to it!

 by S. David Acuff, Editor-in-Chief,

The year was was 1987. I was a 15-year-old kid when I stepped out onto that Junior High football field. I was an offensive linebacker. And I had no clue what I was doing. That’s probably why I was so offensive. No, seriously, my friend Brett was going to try out for the team and said, “Hey, Acuff, what are you doing after school? Wanna tryout?” I shrugged and said, “Why not.” And so here we were!

junior high football team

The rough and tumble world of Junior High football.

Okay, so technically I was not a linebacker yet, because we were still auditioning, but I felt like my Apple IIc computer skills and Star Wars Jedi Training had prepared me for such a time as this.

It had not.

When we arrived, I wondered if Brett and I had accidentally stumbled upon one of those Professional Sumo Wrestling training camps popular throughout Junior High Schools in the South, but those hulking behemoths were just other “kids” here to play ball. Later, I would find out that the word “Linebacker” comes from a Greek word which roughly translates to “Raging Bull Death Tornado” — and that seems very fitting.

The try-out entailed a lot of pushups and running and jumping jacks and hugging large “pads” on “sleds” (not to overwhelm you with all the technical jargon). Although the Assistant Coach refused to fetch me some fresh squeezed lemonade, I was starting to feel better about my chances of surviving Day One. And then Coach called everyone in to circle up for the “Jump Up Train Smash Bash Challenge”.

Now the “Jump Up Train Smash Bash Challenge” is my name for the event, not theirs. What happens is two players lay on their backs, head-to-head. One has a football. The Coach blows a whistle and they jump up and “KABLAM!!” into each other so hard the force of the impact reverberates through the stadium — and your spleen — for days after they hit the ground, in a growling, rabid clash of the titans.

Now, mind you, at the time — and thanks to an early jump on puberty — I was taller than most and had the muscle mass of an Oak tree. A young oak tree. A sapling, to be precise. All in, I probably weighed 107 pounds and half of that was the helmet and shoulder pads. (Top heavy, much?)

Unfortunately, you could only join this brutal darwinian weed-out ritual if you had your protective plastic mouthpiece. Thankfully, I did not have my mouthpiece. I did not have my mouthpiece because after I saw what happened in that thunder dome I spit my mouthpiece out and hid it in my special Football underwear named after some French dude named Jacques. (Way too breezy if you ask me!)

I don’t recall if I made the team that year or not. I never looked at the roster they posted. Also, I never returned for Day Two because, totally unrelated, I had felt called to a life of academia. But, I’ll always look back fondly on my Football Career and the many lessons I learned both on and off the field. Would you call it an Award-Winning Career? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe not if you’re talking in terms of trophies or achievements or such bull malarkey. But to me, I was awarded with life. A life outside of physical therapy and  traction and hospice.

So yeah, I proudly scratch “Award Winning Football Career” off my bucket list. It’s just some of that “can-do” cocky sports attitude I picked up as a Linebacker — a very offensive Linebacker.

David Acuff currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. Visionary. Filmmaker. Screenwriter. Lip Trumpeter. Character voices. Blogateer. All for one and one for all and 3 for a dollar!

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Twitter: @davidacuff


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