So, those were
about all of the ones who made up the Harrison Street Athletic Club
Touch-Football Team, the important ones, anyway. There were others, but they
came and went. I brought a friend of mine down once to play. He filled in at
linebacker for a couple of series until he got his nose broken, and now his
wife won't talk to me. The others were mostly transients who played only when
the spirit moved them. But for the regulars the spirit was always there.
To look at those
regulars on the street you'd never guess what they did on weekdays. Doc worked
for some electrical contractor, and Howie worked for the city. I was a
schoolteacher, and Ham, the one with the tunnel vision, delivered phone books.
And Fitzy—Fitzy didn't do anything except wait for Sundays. I don't think
anybody was too sure what Buffalo did. Whatever it was, he made out all right.
But on Sundays they were something different.
I suppose some
psychologist could explain it all pretty easily, and probably somebody ought to
make a study of the relationship between the territorial imperative and the
line of scrimmage, because there was plenty of aggression going on. But
whenever Fitzy would walk back from one of those piles with that big smile on
his face and say, "Oh, did I cut 'em. Did I ever," or I could hang one
just right on a down-out-down and the receiver went in for six, that was enough
To each his own
was the way we played it, and if I could have that eagle feeling back there in
the pocket as if I were on the ringing plains of windy Troy, those deep
receivers could have their glory, and Howie, Ham, Doc and Fitzy could hit to
their heart's content.
I remember coming
home after that first game with that great feeling inside me, along with the
pain in my chest, and Anne was waiting for me. She looked at me, up and down,
and said, "Into the shower."
Then she smiled.
"And hurry," she said. "I've decided to start a training table.
We've got six pounds of steak in the broiler."