My crowning gridiron accomplishment

Gosh, what a bummer of a football weekend we had last week. On Sunday, our ‘professional? football team, the Detroit Lions lost. (I know, what’s new?) On Saturday, not only did our Maize and Blue gridiron heroes puke out, but so did their little brothers up in Spartyland.
Not only that, our only unbeaten ‘big? college team got beat. The formerly undefeated Central Michigan Chippewas got spanked by those lads from Boston College.
The only redeeming pigskin competition of note (for me, and it’s my column, so it is ALWAYS about me) was round one playoff action between Clarkston and Lake Orion high schools. Not that I dislike the Dragons or think they’re scaly, reptilian creatures, or wish them heartache and losses — it’s just that I are educated, and got as such from that fine academic bastion of all that is good and virtuous, Clarkston.
And, Clarkston played well enough to move on in the state playoffs. The Dragons settled for living a life of vacation in Lake Orion.
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Whilst I majored in woodshop, talking and making jokes during my high school years (maybe that’s why I never had a date), I also managed to play football for the Wolves. I had a great career, full of glory and pain, pain and glory. And, why not? Was I not part of the offensive line? Did I not play guard?
In two years of varsity play, I think I touched the ball a negative two times. I did trip up running back Mark Hughes once for a loss of yardage. The fact he was on our team, is something I try not to bring up when talking about the glory years with my sons.
For some reasons when my sons ask me about my high school gridiron prowess, I neglect to mention my greatest contribution to high school football was mastering how to speak (and be understood) with a mouthpiece in place. I also forget to disclose my crowning achievement in football was being nicknamed Astro. (Ahem … to our young readers: Astro was a dog on the cartoon show, The Jetsons. Astro is the predecessor to Scooby Doo in the talking-with-marbles -in-mouth cartoon dog. Some would say Astro is a poor man’s Scooby Doo. I disagree, but that is another column for another day.)
Apparently the coaching staff of Walt Wyniemko, Kurt Richardson, Dave Martin, DJ Marsh, DJ Campe and my very own teammates thought I sounded like Astro. They bought me a blue hat with my new name blazoned across in big maize letters: A-S-T-R-O.
So much did I talk with my mouthpiece in; so much did I sound like a dog; so much was that name used, I doubt they know — to this very day — my true identity.
Either that, or I was a good drooling mascot type — and as everybody knows, every football team needs somebody who is good at letting saliva run down the corner of his mouth. It scares the other team.
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Yep, I was soooooo good in football that I got a letter of introduction from the head coach of Dartmouth College (yes, an Ivy League team, so it’s almost football). Somewhere in the letter the coach said they didn’t give out scholarships. I didn’t read past that point and threw it away. There was no need to waste time with it. My folks couldn’t afford to send me, the college wasn’t gonna? throw anything into the kitty, so there was no need to spend time thinking about what could have been.
That was the end of my football story, until my last year in college, years later. I remember I was in the library with co-ed student Dina K. Hinkley. (Dina studied to, and then became a dentist, which would explain why she was with me — my drooling.) I remember she was there when I read that Dartmouth didn’t give out scholarships . . . instead they found ‘sponsors? for players. Sometimes, I now think of what could have been.
Dangblabit, I could have drooled for Dartmouth!

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