My two favorite seasons have finally arrived – fall and football. Football fans are enjoying the season a little more than normal this year, because we thought it might not come. Even when it did, it arrived a little late. Have you ever watched a game when a dog ran down the field? I’m not talking about Uga from Georgia, Bully from Mississippi State, or Smokey from Tennessee. I’m talking about an ordinary dog that somehow made its way into the stadium and ran down the middle of the gridiron like Forrest Gump. Some smart aleck, or perhaps some inebriated fan, or perhaps some inebriated smart-aleck fan, shouts, “Give him the ball! He’s running better than anyone out there!” I’ve not only witnessed this, I’ve been in several games when it happened. Actually, and honestly, the dog was on one of the teams. Now, truth be told, it was not a regulation game with 11 players on each side. What it was, was football. (That was for us die hard Andy Griffith fans.) It actually was one-man-and-one-dog football. The games took place in my own backyard. I was the one man, actually, I was still a boy, and the dog was my dog. His name was Big Pud, and I guess you know mine. He and I played for numerous teams during our childhood and his doghood. Those included some of the best college teams as well as NFL teams. We won all kinds of championships...right there in my backyard.
Football is a game that is hard to play alone. It is not impossible, and I know that for a fact. Well, I usually didn’t play completely alone, if we count Big Pud. I was not an only child, but as far as sibling playmates, I pretty much was. I had two older brothers, but they were both grown and gone by the time I began first grade. I also had a sister, but she was six-years older than me, plus she was a girl. She liked football but wasn’t particularly fond of playing, especially with her kid brother and his dog.
In case you’re wondering how to play one-man-and-one-dog football, please let me explain. It requires a slightly underinflated ball. Tom Brady was not the first one to know that trick. It does make the ball easier to grip, especially if you don’t have hands and have to carry the ball in your mouth. I’m talking about Big Pud, not me. I played center, quarterback, and receiver. I snapped the ball to myself, threw the ball in the air as high and as far as I could, and then tried to run under it to complete the pass. Sometime Big Pud tackled me before I could get to the ball. Then I became referee...15 yards and automatic first down. When Pud was on offense, obviously he couldn’t pass the ball, so I just gave him the ball and he ran like “Crazylegs” Hirsch. Sometimes he ran in the right direction, and sometimes he ended up getting tackled in the wrong end zone for a safety. We never had a marching band for our halftime shows. We usually went inside the locker room for lemonade and cookies. We did have sports announcers who called the games. Amazingly, they all sounded like me. My old mutt and I sure had some good times and great games.
Life is much like football in that it is difficult to do alone. I still love a day spent with a good dog, but there is nothing like time with another person. If you are all alone, find God, find a friend, and sometimes even spend the day with a good dog. Let’s go play...let’s go live!
— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.