SI Vault
 
BUMPY JOURNEY TO OBLIVION
Scarff Downing
December 09, 1963
In a void of cheers a Princeton 150-pound footballer writes of a small, bruising world filled with dedication, perspiration—and the ever-present menace of the boiler room routine
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
December 09, 1963

Bumpy Journey To Oblivion

In a void of cheers a Princeton 150-pound footballer writes of a small, bruising world filled with dedication, perspiration—and the ever-present menace of the boiler room routine

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

While they're working on punts, I do some sprints to keep sweating. It's great to run without pads or a helmet on. After being weighted down all week, I feel as fast as a deer. Approximately. I challenge a halfback to a race. What a mistake. He smiles and beats me by 10 yards in a hundred-yard dash.

"You better stick to centering," he mocks.

"See if I'll block for you tomorrow," I tell him.

The practice changes from punts to kickoffs. I'm in on the kickoffs, so I hustle over. We haven't gone over kick-offs since last week, so we spend some time on them now.

I'm on the receiving team. Because we don't have pads on, we're only supposed to grab the man coming down under the kick instead of blocking him. I get a fired-up sophomore who probably won't play in the game. He makes me look bad by pulling away from me and getting to the ballcarrier. He's a real "Friday" ballplayer. The next time I make sure he knows that he's been grabbed. He gets up mumbling something about "not supposed to down-field block" but I pretend not to hear him.

"O.K., that's it," the coach shouts. "Each team run signal drills around the field. And don't come in until you've circled the field five times."

I am the first one undressed for weigh-in. Well, I am the first undressed but not the first to weigh in. A couple of the lighter guys get on the scale ahead of me without taking their uniforms off.

"Show-offs!"

"Common, fat man, let's see you make it."

I step on the scale as lightly as possible. The needle swings past the 154 mark but then settles down at 153[4/5] stand there admiring it.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8