Kickoff Return

The young man plays tight end on offense and goes with the linemen during offense. They are in position groups, but drills haven’t started. Coach Bubba Arledge is leaning on the sled nearby and sees Sean, Roger, and the young man together. Arledge was an all-state guard on a state championship team.

“How you doing, Sean? All clear in the head now?” says Arledge.

“Yeah,” says Sean. “I’m ready to go.”

Sean left the previous game with a concussion.

“Any memories of your time on skates?” Arledge says with a laugh, recalling the few plays Sean had remained in after being concussed.

Sean shakes his head. “Nah. I don’t remember much except thinking I was at Dairy Queen when we were at dinner that night.”

“Yours was pretty awesome,” says Arledge, “but I got a better one.”

“Yeah?” says the young man. “Tell us.”

Arledge glances at his watch. “Ok, we got like three minutes before practice. So check this out. I was a guard, right?”

“Right,” says Roger.

“Well, I was on kickoff return on the second row of blockers–behind the front line but in front of the returners. And my coach always told me, ‘Bubba, if you ever catch a kickoff, don’t be an idiot. Step out of bounds.'”

“Of course,” says Sean.

“Well, one day, the other team pooches the ball and I catch it. And I go to step out of bounds and at the last second, I’m like, ‘Wait a minute. This might be the only chance in my life to carry the ball.’ So a step before the sideline, I pivoted to turn up field, and I got hit by three guys at once. Knocked me out cold on the sideline.”

“Daaaammmmnnn,” says Sean.

“Yeah, well, next thing I remember is smelling salts, and they’re walking me over to the bench behind the sideline. I sit there for a while, and I keep huffing smelling salts and shaking my head to get the cobwebs out. And Coach keeps walking over and yelling, ‘Dammit, Bubba! Ain’t you ready yet?’ Cuz I was an All State lineman and we were on offense. Finally, I’m like, ‘Yeah, Coach, I’m ready.’ So he tells me to stand next him, and he’ll sub me in. Suddenly, he smacks me on the ass and says, ‘Go on now, Bubba. Get in there!’ I go running in, jump to the front of the huddle, smack my thigh pads and say, ‘All right, guys!’ Next thing I know, Coach is hauling me away by the face mask. And I’m like, ‘What’s the matter, Coach? What’s going on?’ And he says, ‘Damnation, Bubba! You’re in the wrong huddle!'”

They break up laughing. “Damn, Coach. That’s baaad,” says Sean.

“And that’s why I sat your ass on the bench,” says Arledge to Sean. “Don’t need you working for the enemy.”

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