Tuesday, June 13, 2006
You've got to be a football hero
I was reminded of this story when I was talking to my friend Melanie on the phone. Apparently she only met Maggie once, and she never forgot it. I had to write down this whole story from Melanie, since I was there and couldn’t remember all that Maggie had said.
Anyway, one time she and Monsieur were visiting us. SH was there, and a few of his friends, and I had some friends of mine over as well. Melanie, for one. My friends were all “artistes”, and SH’s friends were mostly bartender and jock types that worked in the sports bar where I worked. Somehow Maggie got into a football conversation with one of SH’s friends (I’ll call him John T because that was his name and I can’t stand him) and John T mentioned his favorite team was the Lions.
“Oh, they’re my sworn enemy,” Maggie said. “You see, I’m a Bears fan.”
“Aw, now, I thought you were smart,” said John T. “The Bears suck. What do you know about football?”
“Probably not much,” she said to him boldly, “but I’d bet I know more than you do.”
There was a bit of immoderate laughter at that, then John T challenged her, “I bet I can come up with two football questions you can’t answer before you could come up with two that I can’t answer.”
“I’ll take some of that action. Is this a drinking game?” Maggie asked.
“No – ten bucks on it?”
“NFL rulebook?” Maggie asked.
“Sure,” John T said, “whatever.”
“Done and done,” Maggie said, then they touched palms. “You first.”
John T smiled, then said, “When is a forward pass illegal?”
“Oh shit,” said Maggie, “there’s lot’s of times it’s illegal. Past the line of scrimmage – or when there isn’t a line of scrimmage on the play.”
“There’s always a line of scrimmage,” said John T.
“Or, if it’s a pass thrown by someone who isn’t an eligible receiver on the down,” Maggie continued. “Or if –”
“OK, OK … you know that rule,” John T admitted. “Now it’s your turn.”
“Well, you led me to my first question – when is there NOT a line of scrimmage?”
“Um, there’s always a line of scrimmage.”
“No, there’s not,” said Maggie. “Not on a kickoff.”
He looked around and one or two guys said, “She’s right.” “Yup, that’s not considered a “‘play from scrimmage.’” “You’re down one, John.”
“All right,” said John T, warming up. “OK, let’s say you call a one-seven pass, gun, in the huddle – but when you go to the line the defense shows blitz. What do you do?”
“Is it a Nickel D?’ asked Maggie.
John T looked at his friends, who all shrugged at him. “Doesn’t matter,” he bluffed. “The middle linebacker is coming for your throat. What do you do?”
“The hell it doesn’t matter,” Maggie replied. “If they’re showing blitz on a nickel, you dump it to the tight end, who should move open to the strong side on a blitz. If it’s not a Nickel D, then the tight end should be moving across the flat in a post pattern. Flip it to him if he’s open. If not, roll weak side, look for your two wides. If they’re not open, dump it to the sideline.”
John T, looked at his friends, who grinned at him. “I think it’s the lady’s turn to ask now,” SH said. “She’s up one; if you can’t answer this one, you lose.”
“OK,” Maggie smiled, “one more question: Can the ref call a penalty on,” and here, Maggie paused, “the coin toss?” Maggie smiled, rather like how I imagined a very lovely cartoon crocodile might.
“The coin toss?” John T looked like couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Can the ref call a penalty on the coin toss? Well, why the hell would he? It’s a trick question – the game hasn’t started yet, so I’m gonna say no.”
I didn’t remember the question; Mel had to remind me what Maggie had asked. But I remembered that smile.
“15 yard penalty,” Maggie said, calmly, “and you lose the option of the coin toss, if your team’s captains don’t appear for the coin toss. NFL rules.”
There was a pause, then a cheer and a round of applause. John T just smiled and shook his head.
“I can break a twenty,” Maggie prompted John T, who remembered the wager and went for his wallet. “Did you have any more questions?” she asked him, smiling.
“Um… well, just one,” he said, taking out a ten dollar bill and putting it on the table. “Do you have a sister, who might be single?”