Outside of some of the most successful Madden NFL video game seasons in history, I only played one season of football. Real football.
I was in eighth grade and I was a running back/linebacker for a Brewer Police Athletic League team. All that I remember from that eight-game season is Jeff Mitchell was our quarterback and a Richard Brooks was our coach.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I remember the one game we played at Doyle Field — which was like playing in Giants Stadium back in the day. I had a nice 15-yard run, but I fumbled. And, I had a nifty interception at the goal line.
Beyond that, I suppose, head injuries have cost me most of my memories, at least if you believe the anti-football pundits of today.
It might be just age, too.
The reason I bring up my fleeting football career is because the sport made the news twice this past week in these parts. I and I don’t mean the sports pages. I mean the “news.”
On the one hand, one of our more “tradition-rich” football programs made news because it had a play a called “Hitler.”
Yes, you read it right the second time.
Hitler. As in Adolph. As in one of the most reprehensible figures in the history of mankind.
One can only assume it was some sort of all-out blitz play, but when the Greenwich High School freshmen team called the play last week — According to a newspaper report, “The signal for the play is an index finger laid across the upper lip.” (Click the link to read the entire story) — and all the players started calling out “Hitler” as they ran onto the field.
This caused quite a stir in this part of the world for obvious reasons.
In this day and age, what kind of football coach would be … un-wise, perhaps? No, no, only stupid does it justice … stupid enough to slap such a moniker on any kind of football play?
The game happened in Trumbull and while the home team parents were aghast when they heard it, they were wise enough to confirm with the Greenwich coaching staff that they had heard it correctly.
When a coach confirmed the play was indeed called, “Hitler” the story began.
Now credit the Trumbull parents on this one: They didn’t go seeking heads, demanding that a sub-varsity coach be fired, or players be kicked off the team.
Instead, they took the high road.
Debbie Levison of Trumbull was a parent who heard the play call and couldn’t believe it. She is of Jewish descent and lost family members in the Holocaust. But she knew something more important was at stake. She recognized it for what it was … a teaching moment.
“I am not out to punish anyone or embarrass anyone, but rather educate,” Levison told the Connecticut Post. “I think this is symptomatic of the general blurring of lines in our country of what is right and what is wrong.”
And in this day and age, with the disgusting ridiculousness of what is Trump-vs.-Clinton, more than ever we as a country need to be taught the difference between right and wrong.
It doesn’t matter if we’re 14-year-old kids who weren’t even alive during 9/11, much less caring about the atrocities of what Hitler actually did 75 years ago, or the adults who need to be reminded what it means to be an educator, even if they’re just football coaches.
So in Greenwich, we have a bunch of kids doing wrong and being taught what is right.
Well, in Wilton, a town situated between Greenwich and Trumbull comes the story of a football player who literally defended his home turf … with his fist.
But it’s not quite what you think.
In August, back before school started, a group of senior student-athletes from Wilton’s rival school — Ridgefield — put together a scavenger hunt.
One of the big-ticket items, it appears, was to make the drive to Wilton and urinate on the logo at midfield of their rivals new football turf.
Of course the students were … un-wise, perhaps? No, no, only stupid does it justice … stupid enough to discuss their plans on social media.
So when a Ridgefield contingent of 10 arrived at Wilton’s Veteran’s Memorial Stadium to do the deed and earn their precious points, a group of Wilton student-athletes were there to greet them.
While I’m sure there was some stress and intensity being shared during the how-do-you-do’s amongst the two rival sides, all was fine and dandy and seemed diffused until one of the Ridgefield football players decided it was time to whip it out and state his case the importance of doing “No. 1” on the field.
He then proceeded to be get punched out by one of the Wilton football players.
Once upon a time, hometown police would have looked at the situation, laughed and said the Ridgefield player got exactly what he deserved. The offending players then would have been sent out of town.
But alas this is the 21st century and personal space can’t be entered without a 10-page written contract of consent for fear of lawsuits filed by rich parents with a shit-load of money and even more self-importance.
So the Wilton football player, who was 18 when the incident occurred, was arrested this week and charged with breach of peace in the second degree. (A third-degree assault charge was considered, but the state attorney rejected that request).
Wilton plays today and we’re still waiting to see if the player, an important two-way lineman, will suit up and play. Or, will he be suspended for defending his team’s home turf? Let’s remember this was before school started and the only connection was the fact it happened on school property.
Bottom line, though, was the player who threw the punch was literally protecting his turf, and God speed to him for that. So few people stand up for anything more and he did.
I’ll take him in my fox hole anytime, so the Wilton Warriors are lucky to have him, and in my opinion he should be out on the field today.
Yes, it’s wrong to throw a punch and knock a kid out. But, let’s face it, the kid deserved what he had coming to him.
Sometimes, in football and in life, a wrong can be turned into a right, or sometimes just doing the wrong thing is right, as well.