Before Marching Mizzou’s Blood, Sweat & Tears medley; before Blood, Sweat & Tears; before tears, because football was full of blood and sweat and men who didn’t cry, I was there, watching the game, absorbing its lore, stewing in its juices. I made whiskey in a bathtub with Lombardi, drank it with Nagurski, overthrew the dictator of a banana republic with Butkus (black ops, soon to be declassified), and drew up 65 Toss Power Trap on a diner menu and slid it across the table to Stram.
I’ve accumulated a fair amount of knowledge over those years, and some wisdom, too. The proprietors of this paperless magazine have asked me to share it with you. Apparently, I’m going to do it with some regularity. And maybe from time to time with some irregularity.
So, if you’re lovelorn, confused or curious, send your questions to oldmanfootballRMN@gmail.com and a young person will access them, print them on paper and give them to me. And then I’ll answer them, or I won’t, depending on their quality and my mood.
Let’s get this ice cream social started.
Dear Old Man Football: The other night my girlfriend and I were cuddled on the love seat under a goose-down comforter watching Dance Moms when we got into the worst argument. She said that she’d heard someone on the radio say that James Franklin wasn’t tough, and she thought that was crazy. I replied that he’s a glass figurine who plays like he’s walking on Fabergé eggshells. The next thing I knew, we were both yelling and then somehow I spilled my caramel macchiato all over my petite vanilla scones, and then she stormed out and went back to her place. So what’s the answer? Is James Franklin tough? – The Bed’s Too Big Without Her.
Dear The Bed: I might suggest that you pull your eyes away from The "Learning" Channel from time to time to watch some football. The game has changed, son. In recent weeks, a safety made a tackle and fractured his spine. A quarterback took a hit and lost part of his ear. During that time, James Franklin has been pummeled by ballerina-nimble rock formations named Jarvis Jones and Kelcy Quarles, and he’s stood in the pocket to face meteor showers disguised as pass rushes. The fact that he continues to walk upright and speak in complete sentences ought to answer the question, m’kay? Also, she’s not coming back.
Dear Old Man Football: Can you teach me how to Dougie? – Buster Dougieless.
Dear Buster: What?
Dear Old Man Football: I’ve been playing EA Sports NCAA Football 2013 on the Xbox for weeks, and my Missouri Tigers are unstoppable. James Franklin passes for 300 yards and runs for 150 every game, and we just beat Alabama by 28 points. I’m getting something out of the offense that Pinkel and Yost aren’t. Do you think I should apply for a spot on the coaching staff? It doesn’t have to be offensive coordinator or even quarterbacks coach. I’d be willing to start as a graduate assistant. – Video Coordinator.
Dear Video Coordinator: Yes, yes, I do think you should apply for a spot. Send a letter to Coach Pinkel describing your expertise just as you’ve explained it here, and then share his response with us. Get it on video if at all possible.
That said, I think you may be operating under a misunderstanding about your video game. Mind you, I don’t know much about the Xbox. I won’t play any game with a controller that has seventeen moving parts. That’s not leisure; that’s a vocation. Give me a joystick with a single red button and I’m in the tall clover. Just thinking about playing some Space Invaders on the Atari 2600 makes me feel like an ex-smoker drifting through the exhaust of an unfiltered Camel. Smoooooth.
Where was I? Oh, yes, NCAA Football 2013. I know a young person who likes to play that game. In it, Missouri’s quarterback is a rangy dual-threat athlete with medium-brown skin who wears the number 1. Despite what some might call remarkable coincidences, this is not James Franklin. We know this because the back of his jersey says "QB #1" and not "Franklin." James Franklin is an amateur, a student-athlete who plays for the love of the game and a full scholarship, and we have rules in place to protect him.
We would never exploit him to help sell a video game that retails for $44.99, just like we would never sell his jersey for $60 in the team store. I know that you’re thinking that the store does sell a jersey with the number 1 on it, but that’s simply because the Missouri Tigers are number 1, see? You might also note that the store sells a jersey with the number 28 on it, and that’s probably because Missouri ranks 28th in care for women with ovarian cancer.
The fact that you are having such success with a randomly-selected quarterback (and not James Franklin) only bolsters your case for a position on the staff.
Dear Old Man Football: I’ll be in Kansas City tonight with nothing to do. Suggestions? – Killing Time is KillingMe.
Dear Killing Time: The only reasonable thing to do is to see Nick Lowe play at Knuckleheads. The man is a treasure. I interviewed him once. And there’s nothing like the sound of a spry young troubadour punctuated by the high lonesome sound of a train whistle.
As a bonus, I will purchase a libation for the first person who identifies Old Man Football at the show.
Until next time, here’s a tribute to a man who helped provide the soundtrack to my youth.