Tuesday, February 12, 2013

(Street Football) The Big Banana Cut Back.

At the end of August, we'd put away our baseball gloves in exchange for the pigskin. Most often this would take place in the back alley or a church parking lot. From early on, we were taught to run extremely tight pass routes. Our role model at the time was Steve Largeant who was some slow little white boy wide receiver for the Seahawks who would always manage to get open. Look him up if you're not familiar.

If you didn't run a tight pass route, chances are, you wouldn't get open, and even worse you'd get ridiculed for running a route like a little girl. Nobody wanted this, everybody wanted to get open, everybody wanted to score a touchdown. It was pick up football, in the back alley, but it was taken seriously. Your manhood, at age six or seven was on the line, and it got even more serious as you got older.

This was probably my experience listening to, and trying to follow instructions. My brother would give me specific routes to run. He was the quarterback up until I got into high school when I proved I could be a pretty accurate and consistent, and a serious threat when rolling out of the pocket. (I'm a lefty). When this happened, the roles were reversed, and I was calling the plays, and it progressed to the point where we would run timing patterns. Which means, I would throw the ball before he would make the break/cut in anticipation (the ball would already be in the air before he was ready to catch it). He was faster and ran better pass routes than me, so me becoming the quarterback was mutually beneficial.

The first "serious" pass route I learned to run was the "Big Banana Cut Back." You had to run it quickly otherwise the QB would tits up. You'd run in sort of a curve (see diagram above) to the other side of the field. To sell the route, you had to act as though the ball was on its way, and this would happen after a little pump fake from the QB - which would cause the QB to over commit as you were cutting back the other way. It took a whole afternoon or so to get that one, and eventually I'd half ass the route and hear about as I'd return to the line of scrimmage.

The fact that we could call plays and strategize on a field, in a game, involving people quite captured my imagine. Many times during grade school classes and bullshit lectures, I'd find myself obsessing over designing elaborate plays. It got my head working, and working in a positive way I think. Street Football theory was amazing to me.

Now, in reality, it was rare that an elaborate play call lead to an easy touchdown. In most cases, my team mates were confused (not the defense), didn't care, or I didn't explain it well to them. Many times they'd lead to turnovers or hi jinx.

In conclusion, Street Football and other sports provided an escape from much of the bullshit that went on and I get a little sad that I just don't see pick-up games as much anymore. I would really get lost in such competition. Aside from the fun of designing football plays, there were fights, name calling, taunting, arguments, mom insults and all of this beautiful tension that seemed to make many of us a lot tougher. I received some of it (I was a skinny kid), everybody did. And nobody whined to their god damned parents and cops didn't bother us.

Those days are gone, new memories are being created but not on the makeshift concrete gridiron.

Dear Lord, save us from this generation of sissies.

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