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Would-be lineman dreams of gridiron victory

Paul Dunn

Football’s big in North Carolina. I experienced the phenomenon anew several weeks ago on a trip back to Greenville, N.C., home to the 25,000-strong East Carolina University Pirates.

Motto: “Arrrrrggghhhh – Hey, watch where you’re sticking the sword, Buster!”

I arrived in time to witness the team’s biggest game against arch rival North Carolina State University. The Wolfpack was having a miserable season up to the game with ECU, so Pirate fans were drooling at the prospect of skewered doggie. ECU had walloped the Wolfpack the year before and had assembled a better team this year.

So … spirits were high – until they came crashing down amid the howls of red-garbed NC State fans. The Pirates lost 34-20.

This, of course, meant fewer drunken Pirates on Greenville streets hootin’ and hollerin’ all night. ECU, despite the bleating protestations of administration officials and provincial town bigwigs, is known more for its alcoholic hijinks, party atmosphere and football fanaticism than anything else.

And that’s a shame, because the school has exemplary liberal arts programs and a distinguished medical school specializing in primary, rural and family medicine.

But then, who cares: Let’s talk football.

Because ECU has more than its share of 300-pound linemen, I got to thinking about those behemoths and what they say just before the ball’s snapped and they jam their elbows into each other’s Adam’s apples.

Speaking of Adam, incidentally, little has been chronicled over the years about the second apple to determine the fate of humankind. Up until now, it’s been all about Eve, but Adam’s apple was even more consequential …

Eve: “This is one gnarly apple. Mmmmmm.”

Adam: “Don’t hog it, Eve, give me a taste …” Bonk! “Ow! What in the blazes!?”

Yes, the second apple fell from the tree and landed on Adam’s head. Did he think, “Wow, gravity really blows my mind!” No, he thought: “D’oh, that really hurt … but I liked it.”

His second thought was: “Hummph. How can I capitalize on this pain and pleasure? Of course! Football! Out of the way, Eve, I have to go slay a pig!”

In his first season on the gridiron, Adam (playing without a helmet, or any other clothing, for that matter) gained 53 miles as the world’s best – and only – tailback (Eve didn’t tackle very well, and the fields were much bigger then).

But back to the linemen: I’d like to be one. Never mind that I’m 55 years old and weigh 145 pounds. And I know I’m not the only scrawny man out there with an “in the trenches” mentality …

Announcer: “It’s a beautiful day today at ECU’s Dowdy-Ficklin football stadium, with 50,000 fans expected to watch the Pirates’ newest offensive lineman Noodle Peabody battle 380-pound NC State defensive end Haystack ‘Innard-Twister’ Swoboda. Peabody will have to use some psychology to avoid getting squished today.

“They’re lined up. Let’s see what happens …”

Peabody: “Hi there. My name’s Noodle. I’m a Pisces. What’s your sign?”

Haystack: “I … crush … you … like … maggot.”

Peabody: “Ahhh, that’s sweet. Thank you very much. I have gummy bears under my helmet. Would you like some?”

Haystack: “Coach let me eat grass after practice.”

Peabody: “Hmmmm. I see. I was wondering why your mouth was green. Poor thing. You should try some nonfat yogurt, and maybe a fruit smoothie. It’s good to eat a balanced diet.”

Haystack: “Thiiipppttttthhhh … gorrrrk.”

Peabody: “My goodness! You sure hocked up a wad there. Did you get any on your shoes?”

Haystack: “Coach say I good boy if I stretch your neck.”

Peabody: “Now that’s cute! Want some Hershey’s Kisses? I got ’em right here under my shoulder pads.”

Haystack: “Coach teach me to squat on ground and grunt. He say that what real men do.”

Peabody: “Well, heckfire, I can do that! Let’s hold hands and do it together.”

Haystack: “Coach tell me hurt people, not hold hands. I get in trouble.”

Peabody: “Ah, live a little, Haystack. Tell you what: Let’s go to my house and watch our game on TV. I’ll make us hot cocoa …”

Haystack: “With marshmallows?”

Peabody: “You got it, Big Boy.”

– Paul Dunn is editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He can be reached at (530) 542-8047 or by e-mail at pdunn@tahoedailytribune.com.


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