Monday, April 6, 2009

My First Coaching Injury

I coach offensive line for the Dallas Defenders. The Defenders are in the National Public Safety Football League (NPSFL). I coach because I am old and don't bend without breaking. I do still move well enough to demonstrate a move occasionally. I also, move well enough to be a space filler. It's a lot like the seat fillers that they use at the academy awards and such. You don't really do anything but you make everything look better. That was suppose to be the case at practice yesterday. Our left tackle, Patrick, had to leave about 30 minutes before practice was over. We were working team defense so I stepped in to be a space filler. D-Line was working on pass rushing so they were doing twists and loops and various other D-line stuff. I was being a typical left tackle and trying to ride the end outside the passing pocket. He was being easy on me, since I was just a space filler, but he was firing out and working up the field so that others could work on their assignments. On a particular play at 1645 hours, near the end of practice, our quarterback called a pass play that Central Texas likes to run. He announced that the snap count would be on two. On the offensive line we like it when we mix up the snap count. It accentuates our advantage over the defense. Everything is easier when you hit the person across from you before they hit you. Consequently, since o-line is always asking for the snap count to be different, it is very bad if we jump and cause a penalty. So it was on this particular play. I was not going to jump. I was going to practice what I preach, over and over and over. I was going to be disciplined and sit perfectly still in my two point stance. I heard the line calls as we approached the ball. Everything was pretty standard. I heard the quarterback going through his cadence then, "hut". I expected the defensive end to jump. It was the first time since I had been in that we changed up the cadence. So when he lurched forward, I remained perfectly still. What I didn't know, and didn't plan for was that the center would mistakenly snap the ball on one. This happens occasionally in football. It usually doesn't result in a great play for the offense because everyone on offense is caught off guard. It does not result in a penalty because the ball is snapped before anyone moves. Normally, as it did on this day, the offensive lineman get hit, realize what happened and recover to salvage the play. The problem comes when one of the offensive lineman is merely a space filler. When you look at football helmets it is easy to see the different face masks for different positions. Backs and kickers have much smaller face masks than lineman for obvious reasons. When looking at all the styles of face masks there is never one called space filler. This is because the space filler just wears Oakley's and a Titleist cap. These accoutrement's of space filling do very little to protect the space filler from the fully clad 6'6", 280 lb, defensive end. It is for this reason that yesterday at 1646 hours the space I was filling was horizontal and very close to the plane of the earth. I did manage to keep the blood off of my embroidered coaching jacket, another tool of the space filler. I applied direct pressure to the space over my left eye for the next 14 minutes until practice was over. My space filling of the left tackle position was over, but I certainly wasn't going to leave practice early for something like this. What kind of Coach would I be? After practice, while being barraged with queries about my condition, I calmly walked to the car and headed for the ER. I did have some interesting moments while maintaining pressure with one hand, holding the phone with the other, and driving with my knee. But hey, all space fillers can do that. At the ER I got my 6 stitches and hurried out before being exposed to any real illnesses. This morning, I realized that in addition to the cut over my left eye, I also have an abrasion on my left cheek and a swollen upper lip. I have secured my "space filler" Purple Heart and, after all, Chicks dig scars!

Beef / JG


  1. And glory lasts forever! Dad, you are SO FUNNY. I love the line about space fillers only wearing Oakley's and a Titleist cap. Hilarious. I was laughing out loud!
    Does it hurt? See you Thursday! Love you!