Suited Up

Pee Wee football. It's cute. But even cuter that they stopped to do the nae nae. Dance or tackle?

“Wait! That’s Rodney!?”

When I was a little Doc, my dad and I watched college ball together. The Lions weren’t much to look at so, likely out of his self-preservation, we watched Big Ten football.

I didn’t pay any attention to the NFL until after college. I only started watching because I casually knew someone who kicked for the Giants. So I became a Giants fan. It was a very fruitful relationship–the era of The Big Tuna and some rings.

The Big Guy didn’t play football until high school. The program was huge–80 or 90 boys would suit up for varsity on Saturdays. Pretty much every one of those boys thought they had a chance to play in the NFL. Especially as their school was nationally ranked, again. (I never got what that meant. Like ranked by who? What criteria? Who sees them? Damn system is worse than NCAA coaches poll. /rant)

There were probably 150 boys in the football program every year across freshman, JV and varsity. A bunch, well more than a handful, were recruited for Division I schools. Some started, many did not.

Most of the boys on that big high school team didn’t were never played a down in a game. It’s like they fielded a big team just to intimidate smaller schools. Many starters played both offense and defense. The Big Guy played on the scout team. Those are the boys who imitate the other guys during practice. Except you weren’t really allowed to hit the starters. And, you kept waiting for a coach to notice you. They didn’t.

The Big Guy would talk about how the first string would hit. How some were hesitant. How some were soft. The top ranked high school player in the country played with him. He said he never rang his bell. The kid who ended up playing for Harvard? That guy could hit. Or so I was told.

Sunday we saw Rodney on TV. The Big Guy ran the 4X4 relay with him. They played ball at the same time. Nobody thought that the little guy would be in the NFL. Eyes were set on other stars. And, yet, there he is. And the hundreds of other boys who played with him in Pop Warner, high school and college? Doing something else.

Rodney was playing for the other team, but I still kind of was rooting for him. You know you have passed into another stage in life when you see a big-contract NFL safety on TV and you just want to pinch his cheek. So I pinched the Big Guy’s sweet bearded cheek.

What So Proudly We Hailed?

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Are you a patriot? Are you a real American? What does that mean?

Different things to different people, of course. This is #Amurrica. Home of the free and the brave. And of the diverse set of opinions that make us so interesting–if not highly functional.

Back to the home of the brave, some are braver than others. So there’s this professional football player that sat out the Star Spangled Banner for the entire pre-season. And just recently, it was noticed. I decided against tracking down the source of this Nile, I think it’s not germane to the tale-but I bet there’s a story there, too.

So, anyway, the athlete, who gets paid bring-your-team-to-the-Superbowl-but-not-actually-win-it wages, gets in big PR (that’s public relations, also known as yelled at on TV, Facebook and internet newspapers. Likely also in print newspapers, but are you actually physically reading them? I thought not.) trouble. People are saying that he is disrespecting veterans who have fought and died for this country. And there’s some people saying they fought and died just for this type of protest. It’s been noisy. And full of emotion.

Tonight da Twitterz lit up with a hashtag (this is a way for people to coalesce around a topic or idea on Twitter. I respect that many people do not get Twitter, but please, humor me on this.). There are always trending topics on Twitter. It’s based pretty much on volume of a word or phrase that people are using and which pass through Twitter’s servers. For example, it’s pretty normal for #TheBachelor to trend when people are watching it on TV. It must be on now. The Doc has pretty much no knowledge about this hashtag but I see it weekly. [As an aside, why do they call that kind of show reality TV?]

But back to the point, thousands of people are tagging their posts with #VeteransForKaepernick. Like this one.

And this perspective on the national anthem >>

These are among the many moving and patriotic tweets from veterans across the country. People who served in different wars in different parts of the world and who represent the entire diversity of the U.S. And, no, there is not a consensus among veterans and active duty around the way the football player is protesting against racism in the U.S. That’s #Amurrica, too.

Last, there’s nothing that I could write on this topic that would be more meaningful than this tweet by a vet >>

Yes, that is how a patriot sounds. Thank you for your service, good sir. And thanks for the reminder that we all have a role in making our country better. #AmericansForKaepernick, and, as they say, “Hooah!”