As we make our way through life, there is usually a moment, a time, an event that stands out…
We always want a lot of those, but unfortunately there won’t be many. When I was a kid, I loved to watch TV shows like The Rifleman,Bat Masterson, Davey Crockett and Have Gun Will Travel. Yeah, that was a long time ago. But like most kids I dreamed of being one of those guys.
But in real life.
Either as a an actor or for real – a gunfighter, a lawman or an outlaw.
I played – or rather pretended to be – a hero all day on Saturdays at my grandmother’s house, And when the other kids got too old to continue these made up stories, I went on my own. I was maybe 12 or so by then and the other kids went out to play football or baseball.
My dad wanted me to be an athlete like my younger brothers. My brother Jeff was an outstanding baseball player, latter he was a JV quarterback at Shawnee Mission East. My youngest brother Jack, well he tried. He was on the team, just not a standout. Me, I played some baseball, was a good hitter but not much of a fielder.
Then came football.
I went out 9Th grade year as a freshman. Yeah, I would be cool, liked Joe Willie Namath. I had kinda long hair already like Joe and put white paint on my football cleats and shoes. We had green uniforms, The Cards. Kinda like the Jets. But not quite. I didn’t know much about football, only what I saw on TV with the Chiefs and Len Dawson. I couldn’t throw long enough to be a quarterback and was not fast enough to be a running back so they put me at linebacker.
I was quick for the short distance so that helped. In practice I seemed to get to our quarterback often – even intercepted a couple passes he threw. Yep, I would be a star. The girls would love me, I was cool. Had those weird shoes and long hair that kinda came out the back of my helmet. OK, so I wasn’t the quarterback of the offense, I was the leader of our defense.
Or so I thought.
Then came our first game. We played the ninth grade team from Nallwood. Damn they were big. There was a nice crowd, several hundred folks, a lot for 9th grade. One was my father, Stan. We even had cheerleaders. Before the big game, our coach, Coach Cody, told us to take a knee, they were always telling us to take a knee. We did. Coach told us he thought we were the best and would not lose a single game this year. For many of us this would be the beginning of a long career in high school and college sports as a football player.
Wow. He meant me.
I eyed my dad as our team kicked off. Yep, I was on the kickoff team too. We got the runner down at his 5 yard line. GREAT STUFF. I took the huddle called a six, three. Which meant six on the line and three backers, me included in the middle. I was sure it would be a run that deep near their own end zone. We all moved up close to the line. It got very quiet. The quarterback took the snap, I jumped the line, the quarterback gave the ball to the fullback, I was on him. The fullback yelled at me as I was taking him to the ground, "Hey I don’t have the ball, I don’t have the ball!"
I didn’t want to look stupid so I let him go.
But he did have the ball and ran nearly 95 yards for a touchdown! Even my Dad yelled, "Put a cheerleader in, take 21 out of the game, he sucks!" I was 21, a low number for a linebacker, but Mike Garrett of the Chiefs was my favorite player and that was his number, so I chose it to be mine.
Coach called me over and said, "Glazer what the hell was that?" I told him the guy said he didn’t have the ball so I let him go. I was benched for the rest of the game, replaced by my pal Joel Weinberg. We got beat 48 to 0.
My dad never went to another football game I played in.
Just as well as we lost six in a row. Then on the last game of the year, we played Trailridge. They looked smaller than us. Finally. I got to play again. I had played in other games and done OK. This was my day. First play I sacked the quarterback. Cool. Second series I batted down a pass. Third series I made two tackles behind their line. In the second half I tipped a ball that I could have intercepted but let our safety David Forbes have it instead. He scored.
Finally in the fourth quarter I hit the tailback and recovered his fumble, deep. We scored. We WON! We jumped up and down and laughed and smiled – it felt so great. Then I looked around and there were only a handful of fans. My best pal Jeff Spero was in the stands, alone. None of my family saw the game. In fact, most of our team had few if any family members there. The clouds rolled in, it got cold we all went to the parking lot to wait for our rides home from the game.
It would be my last real game,
I went out for high school ball but was told to cut my hair. I didn’t and was cut.
SME wasn’t any good anyways. At Arizona State my frat.made me go out for football, I was too small. In drills I said I was a linebacker but they made me be a tailback. I fumbled the first hand off and that was that. Gone baby gone. ASU went undefeated that year for the only time since Danny White was our quarterback. He went to Dallas and our tailback, Woody Green was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs.
I never became a football hero, not close.
I did become a famous Outlaw, maybe the most interesting since John Dillinger. That’s another story though. We don’t follow outlaws anymore like we did in the 20’s and 30’s. It may take that movie to earn my place in history but I don’t know yet.
I’ve got to tell you though, I often think of that day I sacked the quarterback and recovered a fumble and my team won the game. That was my shinning moment. But there was nobody there to share it with that day or since. We all have our moments, so cherish yours.
You just never know if there will be another one.