My answer would be–break my brother-in-law's collarbone. Let me explain.
For some reason, early Thanksgiving week I had the bright vision of playing a touch football game on Thanksgiving. I envisioned all of us old uncles playing our young nephews. Most of our nephews are in high school or in college. I figured we old folks could take them on. I miscalculated.
First of all, most of the old uncles did not want to play. They all wanted to sit, digest their turkey, and wait for the Cowboys to come on TV.
Only one fellow competitor dared to dream as I did. David Denman, my wife's brother, had been thinking exactly the same thing I had. He thought it was a marvelous idea.
The other problem was this–only two of the young whippersnappers wanted to play. The others muttered excuses such as, “I don't want to get hot and sweaty and come back and watch the ballgame.” So, it was my brother-in-law, two faithful and godly collegiate nephews-- and my wonderful, loyal eight-year-old son, Timothy, who finally motored over to the Cleburne High School practice field to play.
It was a nice day for football. The wind was blowing pretty hard, but that did not seem to be much of a problem. We did note that our footing was not sound, since the field was very slick after some recent rains. That fact would come back to haunt us.
Since there were five of us, we decided the two old guys would take on the two young guys, and Timothy would play center and pass receiver on both teams.
The slick field gave us old guys an advantage because the speed of the younger folks was somewhat negated. However, I probably should have sensed we were in trouble when, after the first pass play, my brother-in-law came back and said to me, “I think you need to run a pattern. I twisted my knee.” Plus, he was pretty tired.
I ran two patterns. After the second pattern, I returned to the huddle drenched in sweat. I practically looked like Jennifer Beals in FLASHDANCE after she poured a bucket of water on herself. Walking on the treadmill does not equate to running pass patterns against college kids.
In order to prevent our lungs from exploding, David and I decide to take turns playing quarterback. It also helped that Timothy could catch and run well.
I must confess, initially I viewed him as our liability. Ultimately, I viewed him as our salvation.
We had a nice game going, and except for those passes that I threw to the ground when David and Timothy were open, I felt I threw the ball fairly well. (Strangely enough, I seemed to throw better when the receiver was covered.)
This leads me to our finest hour, or our moment of tragedy, depending on how you want to view it. David decided he would run a “streak” pattern down the left sideline. (A “streak” is running in a straight line as fast as you can toward the goal line.)
He was well covered by one of our nephews, so I threw the ball about the only place I could throw it. It was catchable, but it was by necessity pretty far ahead of David. This kept the ball from being intercepted. David, running full speed, made a great catch. Unfortunately, his momentum carried him to the ground.
He rolled on his right shoulder. He came up and very calmly said, “I think that's it. I think we're going to have to stop.”
I asked him if it was his knee. He said, “No, I think I broke my shoulder.” Considering how calm he was, I was hoping that he had misdiagnosed his injury.
We immediately got inside his vehicle. I drove us to the emergency room of the hospital in Cleburne. Incidentally, if you ever need to go the emergency room, go to that one in Cleburne on Thanksgiving Day. There was absolutely no one there when we arrived except for hospital personnel!
David was immediately escorted to the x-ray room. We waited there for x-rays to be processed. Medical personnel cut David's shirt off for him. This caused me to experience a flashback:
When I was a sophomore in high school, I was headed for a touchdown when a linebacker caught me from behind, jumped on my back, and rode me to the ground. (I never said I was fast.)
I saw a bright light and heard my collarbone break. One of our coaches and a player helped me walk off the field to the bench.
The coach asked me where I was hurt.
I told him, "I think I broke my shoulder. You're going to have to cut my jersey off."
With deep compassion, my coach said, "Edge, that jersey cost a lot of money. We ain't cutting that jersey off."
By golly, they didn't either. They tugged and pulled until that thing came off.
The diagnosis was that David's collarbone had a terrible break. The ends of the bones were shattered. They had to do surgery on Friday. He has to miss six weeks of work.
David has been a real trooper throughout this ordeal. He does not blame me. In fact, he says I threw a good pass to the only place I could have thrown it.
The doctor told David to retire from football; he cannot afford any more broken bones. While I have not heard him say he considers himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth, I have heard him say he has no regrets.
Besides, David says the doctor has not told him to retire from basketball….
What have I learned from this? I don’t know.
I don’t want to be stupid, but I don’t want to quit living, either. Seems like when people start trying to live cautiously, the process of dying accelerates. Most people I know who have broken their hips have done so trying to be careful.
I just hope my exit injury is less catastrophic than David's—like, say, a pulled hamstring. Maybe there is something to be said for getting so old, no one picks you to play on their team. That's it--forced retirement!
Five Things I Think I Think
(with a nod to Peter King for this idea)
1. Was that Case McCoy I saw lead the Texas Longhorns to a big win in the last minute of the ballgame against A&M Thursday night? Or was it Colt McCoy?
2. I finished reading over the holidays the book America's Quarterback: Bart Starr and the Rise of the National Football League by Keith Dunnavant. I am normally a big fan of Dunnavant-his biography of Bear Bryant was excellent-and I enjoyed this book. However, I found this work at times to be more hero worship than biography.
Don't get me wrong; I love Bart Starr. I find him to be as decent a human being as there is, but he is human. Indeed, Starr himself went into much more detail about his humanity in his autobiography than did Dunnavant. Nevertheless, Dunnavant did break new ground--thanks to the dozens of interviews he conducted.
Best of all, I think Dunnavant provides intriguing statistical material making the case that Bart Starr is the greatest NFL quarterback of all time. Some of the material was gathered by resources such as http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/.
This book is available on Amazon and in Barnes & Noble stores.
3. Making a movie? Want to get the best bang for your buck? Well, according to the latest FORBES magazine, Shia Labeouf is your guy. For every dollar you pay him, he will bring in $81. Anne Hathaway is next: $64 for every one dollar you pay her. The worst deal? Drew Barrymore brings in forty cents for every dollar paid. Incidentally, I was surprised that Will Ferrell was third on the worst list: $3.50 for every dollar paid.
4. Why did I get suckered into watching the second season of 24 by my oldest daughter? We have a few episodes to go, and we will have to wait until Christmas before watching them because she had to return to college.
5. I enjoy religious author Calvin Miller's non-fiction writing more than I do his fiction.