Sunday, September 1, 2019

What I Said in 2016 and a Football Story

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An Old Posting

Go back and check out the blog posting of August 16, 2016, which was loaded with a lot of truth about then-candidate Donald Trump, leading me to the na├»ve conclusion that he could not be elected.  I could not believe that American voters were that stupid or gullible (take your choice).  Yet they turned out to be exactly that in enough states to get him the necessary electoral votes and still are today, and everything I said back then is still pertinent.  Check it out by CLICKING RIGHT HERE to read what I wrote back then.

Today's Democratic Party must recognize that millions of Americans have been conditioned to accept lies as truths, to pick someone to vote for the way they select brands of deodorant or beer and who still smoke cigarettes despite clear evidence, printed on every package, that smoking can lead to cancer and heart disease.  

Forget about these (to borrow an expression from the 2016 campaign) ‘deplorable’ people as well as those like the many distressed soybean farmers who have lost their markets because of the President’s destructive tariff policy and, unbelievably, will still vote for him. 

The path to victory for Democrats in 2020 is to register as many new voters as possible, particularly among young people and among those of Latino or African American heritage, groups that have been particularly hard hit by Trumpublican policies.  Resources should be directed to that end in crucial States like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida.  That is the name of the game.  Period!

It is useless to attempt to convince those who voted for him in 2016 to change their minds.  Too many of them enjoy the mud and filth surrounding the President, just so long as it protects them against what they've been convinced is “socialism” and anything that suggests a change in what they believe to be the traditional demographic composition of the nation.  They have been convinced that the Washington pig sty in which the President wallows is a fragrant bubble bath.  It isn’t.

Jack Lippman 

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A Football Story 

A glance at your TV will indicate that the football season is upon us.  So we reached back a couple of years into our archives for a short story about that sport.  I enjoyed writing it and I hope you enjoy reading it.  So come and meet …

The Running Back

Jack Lippman

The Opossums had a pretty good record in the small-time, rinky-dink, professional football league in which they competed.  The NFL gets most of its players from colleges but there are always some pretty good football players out there who never get to college and NFL scouts never even hear about.  Many of them drift to teams like the Opossums who play in a small industrial city in Minnesota where the locals are glad to be able to see a pro football game for ten bucks.  The players get paid about $250 for each game and show up for practice a few times a week for which they don’t get paid.  Of course, most have other jobs in things like construction to supplement what the Opossums pay them, but really, all the players live for is the day when perhaps they would be noticed by a scout from one of the NFL teams.  Occasionally, one might be passing through and might just be among the six or seven thousand fans who come out to sit in the wooden bleachers at Opossum Park on Wednesday evenings, when there was no football on TV, watching them play teams like the Fargo Bears or the Duluth Red Reindeer.  These fans just don’t have the money to go to Minneapolis to see the Vikings, or to Chicago or to Green Bay.  They have to be content with their Opossums who along with teams from seven other rust-belt towns in the upper Midwest comprised the Northland Professional Football League.

“Men,” Coach Lindquist called out.  “I wanna introduce you to the new owner of the Opossums. He just bought the team from Jim Nelson’s estate, and he wants to have a few words with you.  I’d like you all to meet Rocco Fields.”

“Call me Rocky,” an overweight muscular man in his fifties spoke out. 

“I always wanted to own a football team, and when I heard the Opossums were up for sale, I grabbed them.  I played two years for the New York Jets a while back and I think I know a little about the game.  But I’ll still let Coach Lindquist run the team.  He’s a good coach.  But I do want to have some input into what goes on around here.  That’s the fun of owning a team.”

Flash Watson was the best player on the Opossums.  Twenty-nine years old, he had been playing football at this level for ten years.  His education, somewhere in the deep south, ended in the third grade. But he could run faster than anyone on the team, and maybe in the league.  All he needed was a small opening to scamper through and he would be off to the races.  But running backs were a dime a dozen and just as water reaches its level, Flash had reached his with the Opossums.  When he wasn’t playing football, he did day work for a roofing company and lived with his girlfriend and her four-year old.  He was a happy guy, content to hammer shingles and play football.  Oh, yes, in case I didn’t mention it, Flash was Afro-American, wore dreadlocks and had a wiry beard reaching about four inches below his chin.

“Men,” Rocky continued.  “Like I said, Joe will continue running the team, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be involved.  You guys ever hear of George Steinbrenner?  Used to own the New York Yankees baseball team. Loved that man!  Would’ve paid to work for him!  Knew what he was about!  And one thing he insisted on with the Yankees was that they be clean shaven.  No beards, no hair hanging below the neck, just a clean-cut American look!  That’s the one thing I’m going to insist on for you Opossums.”

Coach Lindquist interrupted, “George did allow mustaches, I recall.  That okay with you, Rocky?”

“Sure.  Mustaches are okay, even sideburns, but let’s get on with today’s practice, Coach!”

After an hour of sweaty practice, Flash hung back and cornered the coach in the locker room. 

“Does what that man said mean I gotta get rid of my beard and locks, Coach?”

“That’s what the man said.  You heard him.  He’s the one that pays us so I recommend you stop off at the barber shop pretty damn soon.”

“And what if I don’t,” Flash answered.  What he gonna do to me?”

“Flash, baby,” Lindquist cautioned.  “Just do what the man said to do.  Cut your hair! You know you put your ‘X’ on a two-year contract with us a couple of months ago, and we even are paying you an extra $50 a game, but believe me, I don’t think he’ll waste a minute getting rid of you if you keep the hair and the beard.  He could sell your contract.”

“What’ya mean?  Sell me, like he own me?”

“Yup.  So far as playing football for pay, he owns you.  In fact, a few of the other teams in the league have been calling.  They like the way you run.  I can tell you that if the beard and hair stay, you’ll probably be playing for Duluth by next Wednesday.  Flash, the one thing that happens in this world all the time is change, and you gotta learn to live with it.”

“Duluth?  The Red Reindeer?  Where it 10 below all winter long?  Shit, no.  Not me.”

Watson stalked out of the locker room, a very angry man, mumbling to himself.  “Fuckin’ Duluth. I’ll show them.”

That week’s game was with the league-leading Kalamazoo Knights.  They were the only team in the league which had what amounted to a loose agreement with an NFL team.  A few years earlier, the Detroit Lions had drafted a bunch of linemen and defensive backs who, it turned out, they had no need for.  They traded most of them away for future draft picks but were stuck with three or four that they had to get off their roster.  Quietly, they worked out a deal with Kalamazoo to warehouse them, and that was the primary reason the Knights were in first place in the Northland League.

Kalamazoo’s defense, which had been iron-clad up until their game with the Opossums, was no match for Flash Watson.  He ran for three touchdowns in the first half and was back on the bench after running back the third quarter kickoff for another.  He also scored all their extra points running through the Kalamazoo defense like a hot knife through butter.  When the game ended, the score was 61 to 14, and Flash was responsible for 46 of the Opossum’s points.  But he still hadn’t gone to the barber shop.

Next morning in his office, Coach Lindquist pulled Flash aside.

“Pal, I got some news for you!  Pack your stuff and get yourself on a bus for Duluth. I warned you and you didn’t listen. Rocky has traded you.”

“Even after the big game I played last night, Coach?  Why would he do dat?”

“Rocky was very happy with your game.  In fact, you were so good that Duluth tripled the amount of money they were willing to pay for your contract after they heard about what you did last night.  Really, I think he would have liked it better if you would have stayed with the Opossums but with your beard and locks, he wasn’t going to back down.  You know, that Steinbrenner thing.  Flash, it’s all your fault that you’re going to Duluth.  Change happens and you refused to change.”

Flash was about to curse at the coach when the door swung open and a tall black man came in.

“Sorry to interrupt you guys, but my time is limited, really.  Gotta get to the airport and catch a plane and my ride is waiting outside.”  Looking at Flash, he continued.

“I’m Ned Smith.  Work for the Detroit Lions.  I showed up last night to look at some of our people playing with Kalamazoo.  Injuries are killing us this season.  We need a couple of linebackers fast, so I was looking at the two All-American losers you played against last night.  Recognized them, Mr. Watson?”

Flash shook his head.

“One of the guys you ran over last night was a runner-up for the Heisman trophy three years ago.  One disappointing All-American from TCU.  And the other guy, the one wearing number 88, was All-Conference in the PAC-12.  We’re bringing them both up to the Lions this week; they both looked pretty good last night, except for not being able to stop you, and frankly, we’d like to bring you along with them, Flash.”

With that he pulled out a piece of paper and shoved it, along with a pen, in front of Flash Watson.

“Already spoke to Rocky.  Known him for years.  It’s all okay with him and he’s making a nice buck out of the deal, too.  Just sign this, Flash, so I can get outta here.  It’s a temporary agreement until you sit down with the team in Detroit next week.  We’ll work something out then.  And you can see clipped to it, there’s a check for $25,000 just to show you that we’re serious and acting in good faith.  Do we have a deal?”

“We sure do,” a smiling Flash answered.  Turning to Coach Lindquist, he continued, “Man, change sure do happen.  Lotta change since what you wuz tellin’ me a few minutes back, right, Coach?”

Lindquist smiled and lit a cigar.

“Keep in touch, Flash.”

 (After posting this story, it occurs to me that the dialect in which "Flash" speaks might be offensive to some readers.  I feel that it is close to the way a Black American who dropped out of school in the South after the third grade might speak.)

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