Thursday, March 22, 2012


So there's a big to do over the "harsh" punishment meted out to the New Orleans Saints football coaches and GM because they had been paying bounties to players who took out stars of the opposing teams. Took them out meaning they injured them so seriously they couldn't play at least the rest of the game if not for several games or the entire season.

As one sports writer pointed out it seems like a fine line between paying football players to "hit" and tackle and block and sack etc. players on the opposing team. i.e. "get physical" etc., and paying them to "take out" a player on the opposing team. Though it's not such a fine line to many of us.

But my main point is it's nothing new. When I played football at a Catholic boys school in Newark in the late 1950s, every game we threw money in a hat which would go to the player who took out (i.e. injured so badly he had to stop playing at least for that game) one of the stars of the opposing teams. And I'm sure it was nothing new then either.

Because Jack Kerouac writes about playing my team a decade earlier when he was the hotshot star of the Columbia University freshman squad and played Saint Benedict's, my school, day prep school for immigrant kids to make it into college etc., mostly Irish and Italians back then, the kind of school that emphasized academic and athletic discipline and ignored the arts (now it's mostly African-American and has a jazz program and other arts I wish had been around when I was there on an academic scholarship).

Anyway, what I was saying was Kerouac writes about being injured so badly in that game that he walked around on crutches for quite a while, basically out for the season which led to his giving up on his athletic scholarship to Columbia and dropping out and becoming the writer we know, so I always felt there was a connection between us when I read about it, no matter how tenuous. I played for the team that ten years earlier broke Kerouac's leg on a bounty system much like what commenters are acting like is some new horror invented by The Saints. Not.

[I used to have a photo of me on the varsity team from back then but all I can find is this one when I was in ninth grade, a freshman, on the junior varsity team known as "the rinky dinks"—that's me with the tilted head on the viewer's right in the third row. And by the way I hated the bounty system and a lot else about playing team sports so quit and didn't play my senior year or ever again.]

1 comment:

JIm said...

I believe that was the year I went with you to the first day of practice. I lasted one morning and spent the afternoon in at the Maplewood Country Club swiming pool still gasping for breath from asthma. When I was 40 years old I ran my first mile. It took me 30 days to work up to it. I never knew even, after I got in shape if I would finish my morning run until, Advair was avaiable in the early 90's. American medical science is incredable. 7 and 8 years ago, I had my knees replaced. 5 years ago I was almost dead with huge blood clots on both lungs as a result of bad genetics mixed with a neck fusion and a surgeon who was unconcerned with blood clots. This year, after losing 20 lbs and a multi year program of spinning and a 6 month program of minor alteration to diet, I skied with flashes of what I used to accomplish 20 years ago. I plan on skiing the steeps and the bumps next year at the new reduced season pass available to a seventy year old.

God Bless the US medical up to this point in my life.