Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My New Year's Resolution

I'm done with making big, meaningful New Year's resolutions — lose weight, exercise, write a poem a day, never get angry. They always backfire.

Unlike most people, who tend to gain weight during the holidays, I gain afterward, just when I've resolved not to. When it comes to exercise, yesterday I almost broke my arms lifting up two grocery bags. Pathetic, yes, motivational, no. The more I resolve to exercise, the harder I find it to get going.

As for writing poetry, I seem to have left my muse stranded somewhere back in the twentieth century. I might be able to knock out a limerick or two, but as for anything deep and tormented — forget it. Maybe my inability to write poems lately is a good thing, though. Perhaps it means my angst gene has mutated. In fact, I'm sure it has. It's become the mindless football maniac gene.

During the past few days, I've watched a lot of football. I didn't need a New Year's resolution to inspire this fanaticism. I'm completely addicted to the game. On New Year's Eve day, I watched my favorite college team, the Miami Hurricanes, lose horribly to Notre Dame in the Sun Bowl. Unhappy but undeterred, I've since watched the Rose Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, the Orange Bowl, and the Sugar Bowl, not to mention tuning in to see my favorite pro team, the New England Patriots, demolish the Miami Dolphins.

All of which leads me to my 2011 New Year's Resolution — I resolve to learn the offensive and defensive positions.

I understand the game at this point. I really do. I can point out pass interference, I see when a team is offsides, I know what holding is. I've learned about two-point conversions and safeties, I'm aware of the overtime rules, both at the college and pro levels. I'm an expert on fumble recoveries, interceptions, and kick returns. I just can't seem to figure out all the positions.

I get quarterback. He's the guy who throws the ball to a receiver, or hands it off to a running back. But sometimes the running back is called a halfback or a fullback. And when the quarterback throws the ball, sometimes the wide receiver catches it, but often it's tossed to the tight end or even to a running back. For all I know, the tight end isn't always on the end. But is the fullback always in the back? I hope you can see why I'm confused.

I understand the role of kicker. He kicks off the ball or makes field goal attempts. But what about the punter? I get that he kicks the ball after the other team fails to convert to first down. But sometimes the kicker is also the punter, though usually someone different does that job. Or am I going crazy?

I know what the offensive line does. I'm confident about that. Their job is to protect the quarterback. But who's on the line? I consulted a chart that tells me there's a center, guards, and tackles. But who's who? Logic suggests the center is in the center. But is that always true? What happens during different formations? Who can tell who does what? Not me, though I'm resolving to do better.

The offense is the easy part for me. I really get confused when it comes to defensive positions. Basically, I have no idea who plays what. I've heard the terms cornerback, linebacker, and safety, but when watching a game, I don't have a clue. And I gather there are tackles on the defense as well as on the offense. What's up with that?

So, I'm resolving to learn the positions. Will this make me a better person? No. Will this make me a smarter human being? Definitely not. Will this cause me to start writing angst-ridden poetry about the human drama played out on the gridiron? Probably.

Until then, I've got my notebook handy and I'm gearing up for the playoffs.


  1. Football players should be rewarded college degrees for all the memorizing they need to do. On the subject of muses: Philip Whalen said he had no need to write poetry after becoming a Zen Buddhist. His angst was gone. (Not a direct quote)

  2. Way too complicated for a poor European... I give up. The rules of poetry seem much easier to master than to master those of this game. And I am hopeless at that too...! Enough frustration to make one angry!

  3. you already know too much. This quest is likely to be followed by cravings for very cheap beer.


  4. Sadly, I must say that I can identify with everything you've written--except with you love of football. I attended games when my sons were in highschool, but I could seldom even recognize them in all their pads & equipment, and I NEVER know what was going on. bonnie