And last, I remember the arena, the stage. Everyone should have the chance, just once, to do something in front of 80,000 people. The noise in the big games filters into your helmet, growing and growing, until it's so big that it's more like a swift warm river carrying you along. You don't feel tired in the big games. It's only afterward, in the silence, that you realize how beautifully high you were.
You will notice that I haven't mentioned school pride as one of the pluses. When I was a player I didn't care a fig about my school or my fellow students when I was on the field. I cared only about my teammates. Always.
Also, I haven't mentioned coaches. I had one or two I cared about deeply. But I remember the coach who told a teammate, "Your mother's a coward, your father's a coward, you're a coward and you'll always be a coward." I still wonder what good that coach thought he was doing.
It should be fun for me this fall out there on the old trail. Lots of d�j� vu. Maybe too much. If anybody sees me strapping on a helmet, please, just nail me with a blindside.