Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Scars make better stories than tattoos

*Title stolen from Rachel
Okay, it's time to get something very personal off of my chest. I don't talk about this very much, but here it goes. Wait. First let me lay out some background info.

I use to be a high school football player. A damn good one, too. Not the biggest or fastest. But a hard worker with good instincts. And I liked to hit people. Hard. I started every varsity game my sophomore and junior years. Recorded well over 100 tackles per season and made the All-District team 3 years in a row. Several colleges were interested in recruiting me and had sent letters to say as much. I made good grades in school and scored pretty high on the SAT, so it seemed that a full-ride scholarship would be in my future. Not so fast. Remember I said I started every game my sophomore and junior year.

The summer before my senior year I worked out nearly every day. Me and a group of friends also hired on with a construction company that summer. We would work 4 days a week, 10 hours a day in blistering 100 degree Southeast Texas heat. By the end of July I was in great shape and it seemed like 2-a-days would be a breeze. As the start of our Senior year approached, me and all my friends quit the construction job and decided to throw a major creek party with our earnings.

This was a creek party of epic proportion. There were probably about 40 or 50 people on the creek that day. We had thrown an old rope over a tree that leaned out over the deepest part of Village Creek. Several knots were tied at the end of this rope.

After many, many beers and several backflips off the ropeswing, I was called upon to do a new trick.
I was going to attempt a one-and-a-half backflip into a dive.
I took a good running start into the jumpoff point.
When I threw my legs over head and pulled with my arms, the end of the rope wrapped around my right leg.
Not noticing this little detail, I continued rotating.
And the rope held, as gravity did it's thing. I was hung in mid-flip by the crotch and suspended for what seemed like an eternity.
It was excruciatingly painful.

Half-drunk and stoned, the adrenaline was pumping like mad when I realized what had happened. I grabbed my beanbag and immediately knew something was wrong. Very, awfully, horribly wrong.

Let's stop a minute and think about where I am. I am in the deepest part of a cold, muddy creek. My nuts are in my right hand. There is a steep, slippery bank about 6 feet away. I sidearmed to the steep bank and latched on. Then I screamed for help.
My memory of the following events gets a little fuzzy here.
I remember climbing the creek bank with one hand and collapsing at the top.
I vaguely remember walking to a red pickup truck.
After that it's just one long stream of cursing, peaking at the wound and trying not to lose my freakin' sanity.

I ended up with 30 stitches that begin on the right side of my nutsack and extend back towards my ass, stopping where the crotch and sack meet. Ouch.
When I came to, I asked the doctor the following questions:
1. Do I still have both nuts?
2. Will I be able to have kids?
3. When can I play football again?
He answered them this way:
1. Yes, they are both okay. (Woohoo! What a relief!!)
2. There is no reason to believe you can't. (Good, I guess)
3. I wouldn't hold my breath. Football may be out of the question for this season. (What the fuck!?)

Football was my life. It was my way out of that shitty little town. What was I going to do if I couldn't play football?
I was devastated.
As if the doctor's pessimism wasn't enough, I was informed that it would take over a month for the stitches to heal. And I had to keep the boys elevated and motionless as much as possible.
It was the worst 30 days of my life.
My routine consisted of eating lots of vicodin, playing video games, watching TV, and taking care of my wounds. I stayed on the couch for a solid month. I could feel my muscles atrophy.

The follow-up visits to the doctor were very disheartening. They basically consisted of him trying to convince me that rushing back to play football was a bad idea and me telling him to just sign the damn release papers. Eventually my powers of persuasion won him over.

I was cleared to practice the day before our first game. Coach informed me that he would not start me, and that I would receive very little playing time. I told him I was ready to play and I needed to use these first non-district games to condition my body.
He still didn't start me, ending my streak. But the opposing team scored on the second play, and I went in on the next defensive series.
It was a brutal and shitty season. We only won homecoming. I still got my 100 tackles, but they weren't the dominating, vicious blows I wanted. I was weak. I was playing catch-up all season.

To top off the 1-10 season and lackluster play, my coach didn't even attend the district coaches meeting. The meeting where they decide who makes the All-District team. I had to be nominated by another school's coach. That was the day I lost all respect for my coach. The man basically taught me how to play the game, and he let me down big time. No apology, either. Haven't spoken to him the same way since. We had a nice shouting match in front of some freshmen and he was booted the following year. Fuck him.

To go ahead and wrap this shit up, I didn't get any scholarship offers for football. I ended up concentrating on my school work and graduated salutatorian of my class. I got enough academic scholarships and help from the government to attend a decent school. Blah blah blah. Never played organized football again. I miss it more than you can imagine.


Anonymous said...

Damn! That sucks. I've been there done that but in a much less bloody manner. Gotta ask you though..Did you ever go back and swing from that rope again?

Anonymous said...

That would have hurt, All winners have scars. If you love football you should play the game.