It’s his fourth year playing football with full pads. But the boys are bigger now. Much bigger than when they all started three years ago in third grade. Of course, some are veeerrrry large. My stomach turns a bit now at every tackle. I worry about every kid out there.
My son is fast. He runs the ball, swerving and dodging the defense guys who try to grab his waist and pull him down. During a play on the very first game of the season, my son’s thumb was dislocated.
A trip to the ER, and a tub of ice cream from friends on the team.
He spent the next few games sitting on the sidelines watching, and cheering on his team. However, when the doctor gave the go-ahead that he could play, the coach said he couldn’t carry the ball — the splint would make it difficult to keep a good grip on the ball. “Besides,” his coach said, “I don’t want to risk another injury. I want him to be ready in 2012, not 2007,” as a reference to his high school years. I couldn’t help but wonder if he would even be on the team in 2012. Who knows what he’ll end up doing?
So, he played defense, and he was tenacious tackler.
During one of the last games, I was busy on the playground with his little brothers. I happened to look up to see a player on our team across the field, heading for a touchdown. Our team was losing, so I stopped to watch, and yell “Go, go, go,” when I realized the runner was number 33. My son was running the ball down the field.
A player on the other team was coming right at him — my son swerved, and slid his arm out to not only push him away — but to use him as leverage to move faster down the field.
He made it! Touchdown! However, the ref blew the whistle before he striped it, and it is beyond my football expertise to explain why, but the touchdown did not count. My husband can explain it all — he saw the whole thing.
What was my son doing playing offense? I soon learned that he was still playing defense. He had stripped the ball from the other team just as they were about to score their own touchdown. Once he stripped the ball, he just kept running, and he made it all the way to score the virtual touchdown — bandaged thumb and all.
It was a thrill to watch him fly across that field, uninhibited. It was his last game, and my brother and Father were there, doing their duty to share all the glory and pat him on the back. And every Mom, on both teams, said “In my book — he scored a touchdown.”