Slamathon Saturday

Before getting to the Week 3 NFL Predictions, I want to announce to the world that as of a couple weeks ago, I became a football champion.

Thank you Slamathon.

On September 10th, 2001, I gave a speech in Oakland. By sheer coincidence the next day I ended up at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum. The stadium was right near my hotel. I took a walk, and just ended up there. I walked all around the stadium, and somehow, through several flukes and misadventures, I ended up inside the stadium in the front row, 50 yard line.

I have been 50 yard line, front row before, with my 68,000 closest friends cheering on the Raiders. However, this time it was just me in an empty stadium. I had a feeling I was not supposed to be there. I also worried that if I could crack the defense of the Oakland Coliseum, there is no telling what San Diego would do later that week.

I found a couple groundskeepers and took a bunch of pictures. However, the head groundskeeper was not around, so I could not walk onto the field and stand at the 50 yard line.

It did not matter. I had a whole stadium to myself. On 9/11 of 2009, I felt the power of the silver and black. For a half hour, my thoughts on 9/11 were peaceful. Of course, I then had to leave the stadium, since again, I certainly should not have been there. I caught my 2pm flight back to Los Angeles, and had another sobering 9/11.

Yet on 9/12, I had a challenge that I had never faced before. My football team, Slamathon, the best team in the Planet Social Sports Adult Sports League, was on its way to a championship. I got to be a part of it.

Some may think that winning some intramural championship means nothing. After all, there was no money involved, no endorsements, no television cameras, and no fame. These people know nothing about football. Anybody who thinks that football is about celebrity never saw players crying their eyes out after winning a championship.

I am well aware that Slamathon would have won it all without me. However, to be a part of it was an amazing experience.

I have said over and over that I do not envy pro football players for their money, fame, or other accolades. The one thing I do envy is the right to be in the locker room on a Sunday. I have friends who played high school football, and just being in that locker room before the game is a thrill they will have forever.

On September 12th, I got to be part of that feeling. Yet before the glory came the guts.

Slamathon was a wild card. Our first opponent played us tough early on, and we were only ahead 16-12. Yet this team has some ridiculously good players. A couple of bombs put us up 30-12. Now I am 37 years old, and some of these players are 25. I can’t do what I did at 25. I rushed the passer because it took less energy that playing the deep routes all game.

On the last play of the half, I got to be part of the Greatest Show on Natural Grass. I rushed the passer, but he got the Hail Mary off just before I got to him. The ball was intercepted in our end zone, and Slamathon does not take a knee. They wanted to coast to coast, with a bunch of laterals. Everybody else raced to the other side of the field, but I realized tat I should stay put just in case. Well just in case happened. After 70 yards and several laterals, a teammate spotted me all the way on the other side of the field. I caught the lateral, raced the last 25 yards, and had my only touchdown of the season. We led at the half 36-12, and I got to be part of the Los Angeles version of the Music City Miracle.

We ended up winning the first playoff 60-12. Yet we had more to do.

Our second playoff game was much closer. This team took us to the limit. We kept trying to put them away, and they kept coming back. We again led 16-12, and every time we established a cushion they responded. Yet when I rushed the passer on one play, I batted the ball and intercepted it. Picture a defensive tackle realizing he is holding a football and having no idea what to do next. I would have lateraled it to my teammates, but the desire to not screw this good fortune up led me to go to the ground. Three people closing in on me helped.

With a fellow nicknamed “Scotty Tecate” due to his ability to drink as well as he plays quarterback tossing bombs to a guy named Andrew whose drinking is only matched by his ability to twist his body around and catch bombs, we eventually put the game away 36-26. We were now in the finals.

I kept trying to pressure the quarterback, but I could not get to him. At halftime we only led 14-8, and in the third quarter the game was actually tied 14-14. We went ahead 22-14, but only led 22-20 late.

Yet if there is anything I know, it is that the truly best simply dig deep. Precision passing , tough defense, and some luck had us up 38-20. If I had anything to do with this, I cannot recall.

Yet I did have something to do with how the game ended. I chased the quarterback, and he kept running outside the pocket. After what seemed like several years, I finally caught him, as we both fell to the ground in exhaustion. When I looked up, I saw all my teammates walking away. I could not figure out why. They also had their hands above their heads. I thought it was some sort of prayer. The official told me that I had actually caught the quarterback behind the goal line for a safety.

Who knew? I just knew I needed oxygen, or at least some Gatorade. Yet the game soon ended, and Slamathon had a 40-20 win and a championship.

Again, I had nothing to do with their success before this year. They won three straight years, and thos year was the four-peat. Yet what happened after the game ended will always stay with me.

The lunatics I play with know that football is about fun. They actually brought a kiddie pool to the park. When the game ended, we all ran straight for the pool, dove in, and got soaking wet. Somehow all 15 or so of us fit in this kiddie pool. The pictures were cool. Then we poured the water out on the grass, and made a slip and slide, which I took part in.

As they all drank their beers, and I had my fists pumped in the air, I realized that even though this was not an indoor enclave, I was part of the locker room.

At age 37, I immediately announced my retirement after the game. I am already waffling.

Buddy Ryan once said something very meaningful to his players.

“In football, I guarantee that you will make money. You will get fame. You will make friends that you will have for the rest of your life. Yet a championship ring…you have to earn that.”

I made friends that I will have forever. Yet at age 37, when my body can’t do much more without needing ice afterward, I got to be part of the slip and slide world that is Slamathon.

I not only got to be part of a championship team, but I got to be part of the craziest locker room on Earth.

It is not about money, power, or fame. It is about football.

I am now quasi-retired, rooting for my Raiders on Sundays. Yet on Saturdays, when others are watching college games, I will say that the best team I ever saw on a Saturday were my friends in Slamathon.

When the season starts again, I will get the itch.

My couch will be tempting, but so will the fact that I love football.

Let’s get it on!

(after a much needed offseason rest)

Now for the Week 3 NFL Predictions.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Philadelphia Eagles

(No line, Eagles win)

Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens

(Ravens by 13, they cover)

New York Giants @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(Giants by 7, they win but fail to cover)

Atlanta Falcons @ New England Patriots

(Patriots by 4, they cover)

Tennessee Titans @ New York Jets

(Jets by 2 1/2, Upset special, Titans win outright)

Green Bay Packers @ St. Louis Rams

(Packers by 6 1/2, they win but fail to cover)

San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings

(Vikings by 7, they win but fail to cover)

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans

(Texans by 4, Upset special, Jaguars win outright)
Washington Redskins @ Detroit Lions

(Redskins by 6 1/2, they win but fail to cover)

Chicago Bears @ Seattle Seahawks

(Bears by 1, they cover)

New Orleans @ Buffalo Bills

(Saints by 4 1/2, they cover)

Miami Dolphins @ San Diego Chargers

(Chargers by 6 1/2, they win but fail to cover)

Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders– For more on the game of the day, go to Just Blog Baby.

(Raiders by 2 1/2, they cover)

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals

(Steelers by 4 1/2, they cover)

Indianapolis Colts @ Arizona Cardinals is the Sunday night game.

(Cardinals by 1, Upset special, Colts win outright)

Carolina Panthers @ Dallas Cowboys is the Monday night game.

(Cowboys by 10, they win but fail to cover)


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