Ah, what a perfect time for a little sharing…
I played two years of organized football (I was too “husky” for Pop Warner). First was my freshman year of high school, and second was my junior year after transferring to a new school. I was actually a better hockey player and played that all the way through college, but was always drawn to the atmosphere and analysis of football.
My freshman year experience was a lot of fun. I played middle linebacker and a little fullback. We only had four games for the season, but I remember every one of them. Now I had average size and wasn’t very fast or strong, I think that’s what killed my football career more than anything, but I loved studying my playbook and always knew what was going on so I think that’s why I got to play at that point and be the linebacker that made the play calls in the huddle.
But perhaps the best thing that came out of my freshman year football season was when I taught myself how to edit on my parents camcorder and put together a highlight film to “Eye of the Tiger” and “Bust a Move” of our four freshman games. That was probably the very first step towards becoming a football blogger down the road.
I transferred to a prep school two years later (mostly to play better hockey) and the football team barely had enough guys to make a team. The coach/Dean of Students pulled me into his office the first week of school and asked me to play football. I didn’t need much convincing thinking I’d pick right up at middle linebacker and fullback again.
Unfortunately that wasn’t in the cards, because what the team lacked most were linemen.
After missing all of double sessions I started both ways at tackle and on all special teams in the first game, about 8 days after I started. I literally did not leave the field, but don’t think I’m saying that to impress anyone. Now I was about 6’ 195 pounds in high school, and was what scouts might now call a “high cut, waist bender”.
I was a horrible tackle, and was thoroughly destroyed every game. I remember in the game that’s pictured below at halftime just wishing the game was over we were getting beaten up so badly. Luckily the other team put their backups in and the second half wasn’t quite so miserable.
Probably not a surprise that we lost every game but one, and the only game we won was because somehow we played a team that was actually worse than us.
That’s me at left defensive tackle, about to get run over no doubt.
Back then I didn’t know much about Xs and Os, but it always fascinated me. In 2006 I found PatsFans.com and their messageboard really sparked me to learn more about football. That lead to discovering SmartFootball.com among other sites that helped me learn more about the game. Since then I’ve devoured anything I can get my hands on and I feel that my understanding of the game has improved immensely.
But if there was one seminal moment to this blog, it was when I was in high school and taking a class at our town’s cable access channel. I grew up a few towns over from Foxboro and a guy who had a talk show on the channel (yes, our very own Wayne’s World) was going to shoot am episode for his show at a Patriots game. They needed a handheld camera operator and I had made a name for myself doing the handheld cam for the broadcasts of our high schools football team.
So we went to what was then Sullivan Stadium, shooting segments with tailgaters and down at the old practice bubble before the game, then we got onto the field and into the press box during the game, and into the locker room after the game. We interviewed Fred Smerlas (asked him where he got such a colorful sweater) and the Patriots cheerleaders. It was one of the coolest days of my life.
Ironically this was 1992 and the game was against the Saints, and man were the Pats brutal back then.
So yeah, I had a little bit of playing experience, but really it was more my love of watching and trying to understand the game, along with NFL Films productions, that really instilled the love of the game in me and were the early seeds for this blog.