The Annual Thanksgiving Mudbowl

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mudbowl-1434436-1598x1062Bring an old weathered football up to your nose, close your eyes, and take a good whiff. Can you smell it? Do images of sweaty muddied gruff men, caked with sweat and blood, move in slow motion within your brain? Do your muscles tighten in pleasant anticipation at the thought of the gridiron? If so, then congratulations. You are part of a dying breed, a member of a secret society that long ago closed its doors to new applicants.

Well, not exactly. Those doors  remain open today and they will forever stay open. It’s just that, in an era of prefabricated microwave cooking, no one wants to go through the Continue Reading “The Annual Thanksgiving Mudbowl”

Soaring With The Eagle… and Beyond

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Sam Carosa - IMG_7127-300x395It snows a lot in the towns south of Buffalo. That’s why they call them the snow belts. So when a young dad wants to teach his two small sons the fundamentals of football, he only has one option: The finished basement of the raised ranch home he built for his family.

That young dad was my father, and those two young sons were the six and seven year-old version of my brother and me. There we were, in our bare feet (lest we slip on the linoleum tiles), running and defending simple pass patterns drawn by our father on the cold basement floor. We’d take turns. One series of plays I was the receiver and Kenny was the defender. The next series of plays Kenny was the receiver and I was the defender. We could barely catch the oversized ball, let alone comprehend the intricacies of basic square outs, buttons, and hooks.

Yet we persevered. Such was our enthusiasm to play the sport that no amount of failure could discourage us. More important, though, were those reassuring words I remember my Continue Reading “Soaring With The Eagle… and Beyond”

Penalize Colorado! Ethics Begins on the Football Field

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[This Commentary originally appeared in the October 18, 1990 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259Sure I wanted Notre Dame to score on that last second touchdown pass. Just like a lot of other people, I was disappointed when the receiver dropped the ball. Yet, something else occurred on that particular Saturday which upset me even more.

College football bashing seems to be a regular event among the more erudite columnists. Many people complain the big money business of NCAA football runs counter to the spirit of the educational university. Certainly, we can’t encourage putting bucks ahead of books. But a solid education must Continue Reading “Penalize Colorado! Ethics Begins on the Football Field”

Double Sessions

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[This Commentary originally appeared in the August 23, 1990 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259The early mornings of late August forebode the coming end of summer. A slight chill remains above the heavy wet grass until the sun gets high enough to melt the dew. Take a deep breath and you will notice the smell of the season has changed. The dry dustiness has been replaced by a soft gentle odor reminiscent of spring.

Late August mornings encourage us to Continue Reading “Double Sessions”

Some Silly Thoughts…

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[This Commentary originally appeared in the April 12, 1990 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

 

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259Yes, I’ve lived in Western New York all my life, but the crazy April snowstorms we get still strike me as silly. “April showers bring May flowers.” I can’t recall any lyrics dealing with April snowstorms.

Once silliness infiltrates my mind, it doesn’t require a whole lot of effort for other absurdities to encroach upon the various unemployed synapses and neurons. For material, one merely needs to review current events…  Continue Reading “Some Silly Thoughts…”

The Greatest Game Ever… So Far!

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The game has come to define my life. You won’t find my name in any record books or even on many rosters, but the game flows through my very blood. Indeed, the Peter_Sports_Cover_300fact I don’t appear within any organized log tells you most of the story. But this, this is a different story.

Gary Trudeau once said we have become a nation of play-by-play announcers. We see life as a narrated live action event. It therefore doesn’t help things that, among the many paths I’ve taken, includes that of actually serving as a play-by-play announcer. But, rather than dwelling on a “voice of God” describing the action, what stands out in my memory remains the visions of modest, yet self-satisfying, glory. Picture not the booming baritone of NFL Films, but the dramatic slow-motion dénouement of a Hollywood picture.

It’s the littlest things I remember: The enormous body floating silently above me that Continue Reading “The Greatest Game Ever… So Far!”

“Hey! You’re Not Supposed to Do That!”

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Screamed the older woman to the group of middle schoolers playing football in the middle of the astroturfed field house. The field house was the University of 585059_95438463_Robot_Football_stock_xchng_royalty_free_300Rochester’s Goergen Athletic Center. The tweens – both boys and girls – were members of various Lego robotics teams. The woman was a coach for one of the teams. Apparently, her concern involved something about the potential of a football crashing into someone’s fragile plastic robot – a potential never realized despite the footballers ignoring her plea.

But, think about the setting before you off-handedly flip the page.

Earlier in the day, at the morning coaches meeting, one of the coaches labeled the Continue Reading ““Hey! You’re Not Supposed to Do That!””

Rediscovering the Fighter Jock

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The weatherman had threatened early snow unsuccessfully for more than a week now, so it comes as no surprise when the early morning rain turns to wet snow. Rediscovering_the_Fighter_Jock_300Still, the first snow always startles, and I pause in observance before entering my cherry red Z-28. I imagine slippery conditions as I pull from the Camaro from my driveway, but by the time I travel the more than twenty miles to the field, only a faint rain precipitates from the clouds.

The fullness of fall could only mean football, a ritualistic pastime beyond the understanding of most of those who play – and impossible to fathom for those who don’t.

*                              *                              *

I can’t remember when self-doubt originally entered my mind. Certainly, years of hard Continue Reading “Rediscovering the Fighter Jock”

Mary Anne was Wrong! The Truth Behind Character and Destiny

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Pondering the meaning of character one evening, I stumbled upon the much quoted citation from George Eliot (whose real name was Mary Anne Evans) in her 1176484_94344918_novel_character_royalty_free_stock_xchng_300masterpiece The Mill on the Floss (1860): “Character is Destiny.” Curiosity getting the better of me, and knowing the exertion would prove effortless, I dug deeper to discover the full context of the quote. It revealed a wonderful irony. It also led to a deeper mystery.

Here’s what Mary Anne wrote:

“Character,” says Novalis, in one of his questionable aphorisms – “Character is Destiny.”

First, let’s get to the beautiful piece of irony. Ol’ Mary Anne apparently didn’t even like Continue Reading “Mary Anne was Wrong! The Truth Behind Character and Destiny”

The Moment That at Once Created and Destroyed Johnny Unitas – a Book Review of The Best Game Ever by Mark Bowden

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The_Best_Game_Ever_250In an America long ago, boys, after faithfully completing their homework and their chores, once gathered in sandlots across the countryside. As leaves gently fell in the damp autumn air, they’d pick teams – always as even as possible to make it fair – and stake off a field with imaginary (or sometimes natural) markers. They’d then huddle around a spare spot of dusty dirt a few yards behind a well weathered football, draw up a play, break, snap, run, jump and laugh. This repeated endlessly, or at least someone’s mother called “Dinnertime!”

Electronics had yet to invade our youthful agenda. Except for an occasional coonskin cap, the only media (and this one was on paper) that universally influenced young boys dealt with the witty way Tom Sawyer got his friends to whitewash that fence. Even popular shows like “Howdy Doody” pointed children to outdoor activities.

That was then. Now, you sit on the edge of your seat, anxious and excited at the same time. It’s a ritual being played out all throughout the land. In living rooms, bars and just about any place capable of holding a large screen TV and a tableful of crunchy snacks, we share this national experience – the Superbowl – fanatics and neophytes alike.

Why? What fascinates us about this game? Why have television networks, advertisers and promotional campaigns paid so much to affiliate themselves with this singular event?

Continue Reading “The Moment That at Once Created and Destroyed Johnny Unitas – a Book Review of The Best Game Ever by Mark Bowden”