By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
And where did the QB toss that rock? The left flat, on what appeared to be a bubble screen just in front of the left cornerback. The receiver caught the pass, eluded the corner briefly, and I charged with target in line, shoulders squared, ready to wrap up this quick sucker...only my attempt found no purchase. Remember the Normandy scene from Saving Private Ryan where one moment the soldiers are quietly approaching shore, and then boom, the bullets start flying? It was kinda like that, but with helmets for bullets, less vomit, no actual death, and far fewer Germans.
Similar attempts at adding a tackle onto the stat sheet in about a dozen more plays offered only additional incompletions and a sound collision on a long touchdown run—but hot damn was it fun. Fear can prove an amazing natural drug, and the only hangover I walked away with was a bloody elbow.
As the game's final seconds ticked away and players from both teams walked to midfield to shake hands, to pray, and to laugh away the remnants of the afternoon's combat, I was approached by a Phoenix player against whom I'd lined up in a safe punt formation. For that play in the game's dwindling moments, this man had looked me over in the same fashion that a large cat eyes a ball of yarn. In the course of the play, we cracked heads maybe eight or ten times, with neither of us finding the turf. I don't even know what happened to our returner.
"This guy came hard at me. I like that," he offered, an arm on my borrowed shoulder pads.
Yes, I did. And in that moment I remembered just how gratifying it can feel to try to knock another man on his ass.