We’re Takin’ ‘Em Three at a Time This Season, Men

13 Aug

by Roger White

All right, men. It’s almost September, and the strike’s been settled. Weekend warriors from Seattle to Miami are strapping on the armor, dabbing on the eyeblack, and otherwise girding their loins for battle. And that’s just the fans. The wife caught me girding my loins just the other day, and there was much explaining to do. But she knew; football season cometh.

Admit it, men. As much as we complain about today’s pampered, overpaid, under-mannered athletes, when football season rolls around, we’re all a little quicker to greet the day, a tad more sprightly in the step. Football season, boo-yah!

And as if the games themselves aren’t thrilling enough—the intricate strategy, the brutal trench warfare, all the butt-slapping by the assistant coaches—oddsmakers in Vegas give us sporting types a veritable cornucopia of gridiron gambling opportunities on which to wager the old homestead. Sweet ghost of Crazy Legs Hirsch, you can stake a bundle on just about anything—from who scores next-to-last when it’s a foggy Saturday night in Tampa to which AFC East kicker will be the first to get athlete’s foot during the season. (I’ve got a solid C note on the Dolphins’ Dan Carpenter. It’s moist in Miami, and my sources tell me his sock-washing habits are pretty lax.)

I am, however, disappointed to see that none of the big wagering houses are offering odds on one of the most time-honored traditions in all of football (and every sport, for that matter): athlete-speak. I guarantee you that Vegas could whip up huge money on which coach will be the first of the season to say, for example, “We take ’em one game at a time.”

Really, coach? Only one at a time? Just once, I’d love to hear some cliché-spouting knucklehead coach say: “Well, Verne, you know we take ’em three games at a time.”

Or how about this? “It is what it is.”

Now, just what in the name of George S. Halas does that mean? What if, just once, you heard this on the sideline:

“How about that loss, Coach Butterbean? That was a tough one.”

“Well, Troy, it isn’t what it is. What you saw out there was nothing like what really happened. That wasn’t at all what it was.”

“Uh…?”

Timeless clichés are just part of the wonderful world of athlete-speak, however. Let’s not forget about athlete mis-speak. Do you remember these classics?

Bill Peterson, coach of the NFL’s Houston Oilers just long enough to get a paycheck or two in 1972, told the team this: “Men, I want you just thinking one word all season. One word and one word only: Super Bowl.” Sidenote: The Oilers went 1-13 that season. Peterson was canned the next year when the Men of Oil went 1-13 again, still trying to determine if Super Bowl was one word or two.

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher, when asked about his team’s tactics, once opined: “We’re not attempting to circumcise the rules.”

Or how about Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, when asked to size up quarterback Cade McNown: “He’s the about the size of a lot of guys that size.”

One of my faves is from New York Jets running back Freeman McNeil, after the Jets thrashed the Cincinnati Bengals in a 1982 playoff game: “We showed the state of Cincinnati what we’re all about.” You sure did, Freeman.

Lest I be accused of picking on football types, here are some greats from other sports:

Chuck Lamar, general manager of major league baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays, defended his team once by saying: “The only thing that keeps this organization from being recognized as one of the finest in baseball is wins and losses at the major league level.” Indeed.

LA Dodgers ace Pedro Guerrero got famously ticked off at sportswriters once because “Sometimes they write what I say and not what I mean.”

From the world of basketball, North Carolina State alum Charles Shackleford may have bounced around among a handful of NBA teams in his career, but he will always be an all-star with this thoughtful quote: “Left hand, right hand. It doesn’t matter. I’m amphibious.”

Boxing trainer Lou Duva gave us this gem, when commenting on the training regimen of Andrew Golota in 1996: “He’s a guy who gets up at six o’clock in the morning regardless of what time it is.” Neat trick, that.
           

Hold on, golfers. I know you thought you got away cleanly here. Not quite; check out this little ditty from former golf pro and TV analyst Johnny Miller: “I don’t think anywhere is there a symbiotic relationship between caddie and player like there is in golf.”

That’s a sure bet, Johnny. Now, come on, men. Let’s get this season rolling. I’m like a time bomb, ready to erupt.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

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