A Farewell to One of the Men in Full

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, July 14, 2017, 11:08 a.m.

I paid modest respects to my line coach today. Not much is there to prove it. I signed the register and nodded at the people who were staking out their seats in the Friendship AME Church sanctuary. Three fourths of the seats were roped off. Harold Williams passed through lots of hearts and minds. He passed through mine as I looked at his remains, peaceful but frail for a man who was a mountain for most of the 46 years I knew him.

Monte Dutton

In the parking lot, before I left, I talked for a while with old acquaintances. It was hot, but I could remain still and not perspire. If I wiggled one pinky finger, I perspired.

I only called him Harold for about his last 10 years. It was always Coach Williams until one time, quite unexpectedly, he told me there was no need to call him “Coach” anymore since he didn’t coach and I didn’t play. I told him I never played much, and he laughed.

Harold laughed a lot. He never called me Monte. He called me “Moddie.”

Moddie, sit down. I want to ask you something.

He never revealed much about his own opinions. For some reason, he enjoyed knowing mine. I guess it was because I’m a writer, and it’s hard to write without making opinions known, particularly in fiction and the wild edge of journalism, columns and blogs, for which I have been most often celebrated.

My opinions usually satisfied him. They always amused him.

Harold was not a second father, but I knew him longer than my father, who died when I was 35. I knew Harold when I was 13. Do the math. For much of that period, he was a rock. A distant rock, but a rock.

Harold Williams (Kim Williams-Carter photo)

In his prime, Harold could almost have hurled a baseball from the church where his body lie to Bell Street, the school where local black youths graduated until Clinton High School opened its doors to them. That’s when I came in. Bell Street was the junior high school where I first played football. Now the high school is almost new. My high school is the middle school. I played football for Harold. I wrote about the boys’ basketball teams Harold coached. I wrote about football played by his son, Hal. I wrote, as recently as this year, about the basketball and football played by his grandson, Jalen Carter.

Harold knew the value of simplicity. He believed that if a man did what he was supposed to do, it didn’t matter much what others did to oppose him. His basketball philosophy was simple. Here’s what we’re going to do. You’re going to try to stop it. If we do what we do right, you won’t. He didn’t care much for the element of surprise. He cared for the power of execution.

This made him a perfect assistant for the rigid football leadership of Keith Richardson, who made every player, every coach, and every social-studies student aware of exactly what he required. Richardson had little use for variability in his virtues. He didn’t believe in luck. He didn’t believe in breaks. He didn’t believe in chance. Fumbles occurred because kids failed to protect the football. Recoveries occurred because kids were ready when other kids didn’t. The most futile offering a kid could make to Richardson was an excuse. We all learned not to go there.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

 

All the great men who worked together in the pursuit of Clinton High School athletic excellence were stubborn in their commitment to it. R.P. Wilder. Keith Richardson. Andy B. Young. Harold Williams. Bill Rhodes. Bobby Brock. Connie Hodges. Sam Moore. Dozens of others.

Richardson could be an actor, though he most certainly isn’t. He achieved as much with his expressions as Spencer Tracy. Harold and Bill could have been stage actors. Neither ever needed amplification. They were all men of considerable humor, when they were of a mind. Richardson chuckled a lot. When he laughed hard, he made little sound. Harold and Bill could awaken Rip Van Winkle with their thunderous voice boxes.

(Monte Dutton photo)

Once, when I missed a portion of football practice so that I could attend the funeral of a family friend, the preacher requested a moment of silence at Rosemont Cemetery, a half mile or so from the lowland where the CHS practice field was located. In the silence, I could heard Rhodes’ voice, booming away at some hapless sophomore, clear as thunder rolling on the horizon. As my head was bowed, I couldn’t see the lightning strike.

As I looked down at Harold’s lifeless visage, perfectly at peace, I remembered the time a classmate named Freddie Payne tried to sneak away to the showers without completing the after-practice wind sprints that some transgression required. I could see us all trudging into the locker room, beneath the sign that said “Pride of Clinton,” and hearing Harold’s voice, booming away from far behind.

“Come on back, Freddie! Come on back!”

Freddie went back, but he didn’t last much longer. Harold couldn’t yell at him all the time.

He was a good man. I’ve heard Coach Young call him “a good school man.” A good wife survives. A good family spreads out from him, all bright, educated, and wise.

A good town spreads out from him because he and his colleagues turned so many boys into men. I am, at best, merely a modest example.

 

 

 

 

(Steven Novak design)

Ever since I started writing fiction, fans have asked me to write a novel about stock car racing. I kept it a secret while I was working on it. Now it’s out. Lightning in a Bottle is the story of the next big thing, 18-year-old Barrie Jarman.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced. Lightning in a Bottle will be in stock shortly.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are also available at Emma Jane’s, 105 East Main Street on the Square, Clinton.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

(Joe Font cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

Same Old Stories, Time After Time

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, June 1, 2017, 9:53 a.m.

On Sunday night (and into Monday morning), I sat in a box high above Charlotte Motor Speedway and wrote about the world’s longest stock car race.

By Monte Dutton

On Wednesday night, I sat on the front row of the Clinton High School gymnasium – officially, it’s known as the Clinton High School Gymnasium – and took notes on graduation. I almost wrote “commencement,” but, of course, it’s not, and graduation sounds so much better than “termination.” “Concluding” might work.

Here’s the story on graduation at golaurens.com.

What do a NASCAR race and a high school graduation have in common?

Nothing. I’ll strain, though.

While teams pull stock cars out on the grid, the Indianapolis 500 is on the video board.

In Concord, N.C., where the track named Charlotte actually is, lots of the kids – and being young enough to be a kid makes one as eligible to drive a race car as kick a football – were home-schooled in the liberal arts of reciting sponsors and talking points.

The racing was unruly, though not as much as some fans wanted.

The graduation was organized and civilized. At the beginning, the student body president, Ashi Smith, set some ground rules, and one of her points was that she didn’t want any uncouth parents ruining everything for their graduation. Mainly the parents behaved, but some could not restrain themselves from yelling something like “woot-woot” when their young’un’s name was called.

“Yeah, that’s my baby!”

“Sshhhhhhhhhhhh.”

“I’m awful sorry, y’all.”

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Back in Charlotte, in the wee hours after marathon racing, Kyle Busch had been so put out by having to settle for second place that he went all churlish, conducted a glowering media conference of six ever-loving words – “I’m not surprised about anything. Congratulations” – and used his ability to transmit laser beams from his eyes to prevent anyone else from asking another question.

Had the manchild been in Clinton – and had more of a defense for the child part – the appropriate action would have been to have him write 100 times on the chalkboard:

I’m not surprised about anything. Congratulations.

I’m not surprised about anything. Congratulations.

I’m not surprised about anything. Congratulations.

I’m not surprised about anything. Congratulations. …

Except, of course, that I don’t think they actually make students write on the chalkboard after school anymore. They may not even have chalkboards, or if they have boards, they probably don’t have chalk. No one gets paddled, particularly not bare-assed.

I’m not going to be like others my age and bemoan the fact that kids don’t have to write on the board and be paddled. I wasn’t in favor of it when I was a kid. I’m glad they’ve gotten civilized.

Stock car racing? Not so much.

Ever since I started writing fiction, fans have asked me to write a novel about stock car racing. I kept it a secret while I was working on it. Now it’s out. Lightning in a Bottle is the story of the next big thing, 18-year-old Barrie Jarman.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced. Lightning in a Bottle will be in stock shortly.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are also available at Emma Jane’s, 105 East Main Street on the Square, Clinton.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

(Joe Font cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

Where the Ashes Fall

Wilder Stadium. Richardson Field. (Monte Dutton photo)
Wilder Stadium. Richardson Field. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, September 4, 2015, 11:28 a.m.

This, of course, is Labor Day weekend. I’ve put in my share of hours over time, first more with arms and legs, but then gradually working down to the fingertips because they still work well.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

This weekend, though, is notable for all my various homes. I’m sitting in the living room of one now. In the background, Jack Lemmon is talking about the director Billy Wilder. Another home is across the pasture, where my mother, sister and two nephews still live along with several pets, two goats, and some chickens pecking about in the yard.

Clinton High School is home. I spoke to some students there this morning and told them how I happened to become the nation’s top-ranked, and quite possibly only, combination novelist and high school football beat reporter. Tonight I will describe the hostilities between the Red Devils and the Bulldogs of Newberry.

The Clinton High logo dates back to 1972.  (Photo courtesy Tex Glenn and Dale McWatters)
The Clinton High logo dates back to 1972. (Photo courtesy Tex Glenn and Dale McWatters)

A pair of anniversaries are to be celebrated at halftime. This marks 40 years since the state championship team of 1975 and 30 since the titlist of 1985. I played on the former team and wrote stories in The Clinton Chronicle about the latter. Tonight, while teammates are out on the turf of Keith Richardson Field, I will be in the public-address booth reading a script I wrote. Many years ago, my first book was called Pride of Clinton, a history of football at Clinton High School. Richardson coached both championship teams and four more.

Clinton High School is a home, and so is Wilder Stadium (Wilder being the stadium, Richardson the field).

Paladin Stadium, Furman University (Monte Dutton photo)
Paladin Stadium, Furman University (Monte Dutton photo)

Tomorrow night I’ll be at Paladin Stadium in Greenville, where the Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina visit another of my homes, Furman University, to open the college football season. Clinton High is where I played ball and acquired a love of writing. Furman is where I learned self-reliance and became a man.

Then, on Sunday night, I will watch the Bojangles Southern 500 on television. It has been off in exile, like Napoleon at Elba and St. Helena, but now it has been restored, not for history, as NASCAR officials would have you believe, but because they moved Darlington around to other dates, as if it were a traveling circus, and couldn’t make Labor Day work in either California or Georgia, so they figured they might as well let that pesky Darlington, out in the middle of nowhere, have it back.

Darlington Raceway. (Monte Dutton photo)
Darlington Raceway. (Monte Dutton photo)

Now we’re all supposed to pretend a tricked-up Camry is a ’74 Torino, just because it’s white and has a “15” on its sides, confuse Ricky Stenhouse with David Pearson, and believe NASCAR is run by a bunch of really swell guys who care about any history that doesn’t pay big money.

You know, like the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. People with lots of money and power always think people with neither are gullible. They aim to convince us we can’t survive unless patches in our underwear are removed, we stop drinking that deadly tap water and buy the bottled stuff, and that Brian France moved Darlington back to Labor Day eve out of the goodness of his heart.

BZF. He’s all heart.

That might be a '73 Mercury David Pearson is driving, but Carl Edwards still can't pass him. This photo was taken in 2008.
That might be a ’73 Mercury David Pearson is driving, but Carl Edwards still can’t pass him. This photo was taken in 2008.

I’ll stop complaining now. My cynical sense of humor gets me in trouble. Last week an off-duty cop half my age told me he didn’t like my attitude. He didn’t like it when I laughed at that, either. I just figured it was a joke.

I’m glad Darlington is back. Darlington is also a home. It’s where my daddy took me to watch stock cars race. I think of Darlington the same way I think of Mount Rushmore, Fenway Park, and Sledge, Mississippi, the birthplace of Charley Pride.

Occasionally, I think of eternity and where, in the words of the old hymn (“Just a Closer Walk with Thee”), my remains will settle:

When my feeble life is o’er / Time for me will be no more / Guide me gently, safely o’er / To Thy Kingdom Shore, to Thy Shore.

I've gotten to where I don't much care to be buried in the cold, cold ground. (Monte Dutton photo)
I’ve gotten to where I don’t much care to be buried in the cold, cold ground. (Monte Dutton photo)

Sometimes I think I’d like my ashes scattered over Wilder Stadium, there to waft onto the green, green grass of Richardson Field. At other times, I think of my remains mingling with the cool water of the Furman lake or in its many fountains, and, sometimes, I think of being ground into the pebbled asphalt of Darlington, there to be interred righteously by the pounding of Goodyear Racing Eagles.

Alas, I’ll be gone. I’ll probably be stuck in an urn, in the back of a closet, and one day, an ancestor who doesn’t recognize my name will find some other use for the urn and flush me down the closest toilet.

It will make perfectly good sense. It just won’t be quite as romantic.

 

(Design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

If there’s anything to remember me by, it will probably be my books. You can consider them here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

 

When This Old Town Seems Young

Keith Richardson FIeld is ready. (Photo courtesy Tex Glenn and Dale McWatters)
Keith Richardson FIeld is ready. (Photo courtesy Tex Glenn and Dale McWatters)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, August 21, 2015, 11:27 a.m.

Tonight Clinton High School opens its varsity football season at home against A.C. Flora of Columbia. The Red Devils defeated the Falcons in the first round of the 2013 3A playoffs and agreed to open the 2014 and ’15 seasons against them. A year ago, Flora returned the favor rather effectively with a 27-0 win over a Clinton team that would have a rough season.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

Now Clinton has a new coach (Andrew Webb), a new offensive system, and the optimism that comes to town with every season. On Thursday, I drove over to the school gymnasium to watch the band play and all the athletes introduced to a crowd of fans on one side and, across the way, a host of cheerleaders and athletes representing the various sports at both the middle school, which is now located in what used to be the high school, and the high school proper. They took their places after being introduced, and by the time it was over, the far side was nearly as full as the near.

People signed up for the booster club and bought shirts and caps. The veteran P.A. announcer, Mark Entrekin, and the excitable “Voice of the Red Devils,” Buddy Bridges, introduced every kid, from middle-school volleyball to varsity football, as they walked and trotted out to midcourt at varying speeds and countenances, some on crutches and others in flip-flops. As kids get older, the rate of movement apparently slows as the swagger increases.

They all seemed confident. They all had their dreams, their hopes, their ambitions, their aspirations, their senses of humor intact. They’re colts and fillies who haven’t been broken.

It is a good thing. It will not be as easy as it seemed on Thursday night. They basked in the heady optimism and the high expectations. The town is in a good mood. Four of the school’s baseball players played on an American Legion team that won the national championship, on ESPU, no less, and the 9- and 10-year-olds won a state championship of their own.

The dreams of exceptionalism are intact.

Now, of course, the kids who basked in the spotlights must play their games. They must crank up the fight songs. They must swish the pompons. They must block, tackle, run, pass, catch, dig up and spike volleyballs, cross the nearby country, and, somehow, do it all in a coordinated and unified fashion. They rest secure in the knowledge that the community is behind them, but the community cannot perform the aforementioned tasks.

Meeting the Red Devils. (Monte Dutton photo)
Meeting the Red Devils. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton football is two head coaches and six years removed from the school’s eighth state championship. The memory is still relatively fresh, though dimmed by recent results. From the shores of Lake Greenwood to the banks of the Enoree, families send their kids to the schools of District 56, of which Clinton High School is the flagship. This has been the case since long before my mother, father, sisters and brother went to school. It has probably been the case since the villages were linked by more than horses and wagons.

The Clinton Red Devils do not merely represent the school. They don’t merely represent the principal town. They represent the crossroads and the rural routes. Even in the neighboring towns, people are wondering if Clinton will come back this year.

The odds don’t favor them. The schedule is tough. The Red Devils do not back away from powerhouses, even though their own power has recently subsided. If the coming year isn’t successful, the expectations will still be high before the next one. This year, improvement will suffice, but the fans are tired of losing, and the players even more so.

In spite of all this, the kids who hit the field tonight have no responsibility for those who came before them. They have to go out there under the bright lights and win for themselves. They alone will reap the benefits or absorb the adversity, and regardless of what happens against the Falcons of Flora, next week another challenging opponent looms, and then another, and another, until the season is over, and then there will be more sports and more seasons, and more expectations that will sizzle or fizzle in the glare of competition.

What I will try to remember is the faces of the kids as I watched them trot, saunter, amble, and march out to midcourt last night. I expect the wins will outnumber the losses, whether the folks in the grandstands realize it or not.

 

The kids will not play sports forever. They will have to make a living. The principal way I make mine is by writing, and I hope you will consider buying the books that are available here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

 

Informal Football Rules of Survival

Near the center of the photo is the new Clinton High head coach, Andrew Webb. (Monte Dutton photo)
Near the center of the photo is the new Clinton High head coach, Andrew Webb. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, August 12, 2015, 10:24 a.m.

On Tuesday evening, I sat in the Wilder Stadium stands at about the 20-yard line, right about where my late father once watched me play, to see the upstart Red Devils scrimmage the Berea Bulldogs, now coached by a onetime teammate of mine, Wayne Green.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

A few hundred people were in the stands. The booster-club booth was open. The lads gave roughly as good as they got, though they’re far from ready for the season opener on Aug. 21. I watched with a bit of the “bah, humbug!” that often characterizes old men from a different age.

Clinton is modernizing. Most of the time, it’s running a shotgun offense that is a far cry from the wishbone once employed by my team. I’m glad they’re shaking things up. After going 5-7 and 2-9 the past two seasons, and having to outscore teams they once snuffed out, it’s good to see some changes. The new coach, Andrew Webb, is enthusiastic. They’re making progress. I’m upbeat. I’ll be enthusiastic when I see them make fewer mistakes. The stadium is not where Clintonians are accustomed to going for comic relief.

The Red Devils' defense still has some getting ready to do. (Monte Dutton photo)
The Red Devils’ defense still has some getting ready to do. (Monte Dutton photo)

Not to mention Joannans, Mountvillians, Cross Hillians, and all the other Red Devils out on the rural routes.

Hank Williams: I left my home out on the rural route / Told my pappy that I’m stepping out …

A few junior varsity players were sitting below, listening to me hone my cliched exhortations: Go, Big Red! Gotta lock up! You’re better than that, 6-2! Hoddamighty. Way to go! That’s what I’m talking about! Gotta eliminate mistakes, boys!

I started out thinking about the self-preservational rules of football, the practical ones that might still work nearly 40 years after my last game, which was for the championship of the whole dadgum state, and which we won, 14-6.

(1.) If you get beaten, either try to block someone else, or dive to the ground. Do not — repeat, do not — trot back toward the quarterback who is getting squashed by the man you were supposed to block, particularly with your hands on your hips. It will make you an object of ridicule when the team is watching film (oops, video) on Monday.

The Berea Bulldogs (right) paid a visit to Wilder Stadium Tuesday. (Monte Dutton photo)
The Berea Bulldogs (right) paid a visit to Wilder Stadium Tuesday. (Monte Dutton photo)

(2.) The worst people in the world are the coach impressers, the underclassmen trying to make a name for themselves not because they are good but because they break the rules. A coach can clearly explain that the drill is not full-speed, and this is just for blocking assignments, and that’s when these little brown noses will pile into you at full speed, embarrassing you, and the coach will never bless them out. Oh, no. The best way to react is just grit your teeth and take it out on the little snotnose later. Life is tough that way.

(3.) The reverse is, never do something that will result in the entire team having to run wind sprints. I managed to do this in the first varsity scrimmage in which I ever participated, and Landrum High School’s entire team had showered and was heading home while our team, an hour or so from home, was still running up and down the field of their small stadium. It took quite some time for my teammates to forget this offense. (I started a fight. I never started another.)

(3-A.) Fortunately for the kids of today, there doesn’t appear to be any such thing as wind sprints anymore. I’ve got no problem with that.

Coach Webb apparently has a point to make. (Monte Dutton photo)
Coach Webb apparently has a point to make. (Monte Dutton photo)

(4.) Don’t forget to have fun. I played football more to fulfill my responsibility. I put unnecessary pressure on myself, and, quite often, suffocated as a result. It wasn’t until it was all over that I realized how much I missed it, and, in a sense, I have been trying to make up for it ever since.

(5.) Winning is worth it. Winning is fun. Losing isn’t. In part because I played, however modestly, on a state championship team, I have gone through life with a positive attitude ever since. I never give up. Even back when I played, after we had pummeled another team, on the bus ride home, I wondered how the other team emerged from that experience. Did they go forward expecting to lose? I think it may have had an effect. That’s why I so want the kids out there today to experience success.

(6.) Use your head. Study your opponent. Even if he is better, you can beat him by figuring out his habits and taking advantage of them at the right time. If you’re not very smart, someone else on the team is. Pick his brain. Coaches talk about team things. Football requires individual triumphs that, when in concert, produce simple beauty.

(7.) If you play defense, which I seldom did, you can excel by being a screaming lunatic. On offense, a screaming lunatic forgets the snap count, jumps offsides, completely misses his assignment, and, appropriately, is yanked unceremoniously from the game.

Berea coach Wayne Green is in the background. (Monte Dutton photo)
Berea coach Wayne Green is in the background. (Monte Dutton photo)

(8.) If the coach grabs your facemask and yells at you so angrily that you are blinking your eyes from the spit, wait until he is through, and then say, as calmly as possibly, “Oh, by the way, I have no feeling in my right arm.” At the very least, he will be taken aback.

(9.) In team meetings, if you must be funny, be so at a voice level only a few nearby teammates will hear. The sense of humor of most coaches is erratic, at best.

(10.) The notion of being “ready to play” is much more complex than most fans believe. Sometimes you tell yourself over and over things that yourself just doesn’t believe. When you’re a kid, it takes a little trial and error. It’s one of the reasons great teams often lose one game. That loss is a wake-up call.

In spite of the fact that this blog is too long to be on most social-media platforms, I hope at least one kid gets something out of it.

 

Football plays a small role in all three of my novels and a large part in two of them. Here they are. You can read all three on your portable device for no more than a free app and, at the current going rate, a grand total of $11.47. http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1