Are you ready for some football?

Published 9:27 am Thursday, September 17, 2015

“Did the Bears win?” Big John Hudson burst through the front door of the diner and threw his ball cap down on the big circular table, with the flourish of a maestro conducting the 1812 Overture. “I watched all the college games on Saturday and everybody won. I was so tired, I slept through all the games on Sunday.”

John likes football. He isn’t a football wonk that knows the game inside and out. He doesn’t know all the stats of all the players on all the teams in all the conferences. He doesn’t know why the Big-10 is spelled “B1G” – and he especially cannot explain why the Big-12 conference only has ten teams and the Big-10 has twelve.

He doesn’t care to know all that stuff. He just likes football.

He does understand that a fade route is when the ball is thrown tight into the back corner of the end zone — hopefully leaving room for only the receiver and the ball – a play that can really work well when the receiver that can jump about seven feet above the heads of any nearby defenders. He does know that — but, he thinks it’s called a “fake” route. He doesn’t care if he mispronounces the name of the play. He just like football.

John has no idea what the difference is between a 4-3 defense and a nickel package – but he’s guessing it has nothing to do with money. Likewise, he can’t differentiate between an option and a west coast offense. What Big John does know is that two teams huddle, eleven guys line up on both sides of the football, and then the quarterback shouts out a series of numbers, colors, and cities in Nebraska.

After that, all hell breaks loose.

For Big John Hudson, that’s the best part. Twenty-two grown men, running and colliding at full speed – not stopping until a whistle blows — then doing it again and again, until the scoreboard clock reads 0:00. John likes smash mouth, three yards and a cloud of dust, run to daylight football. Good times!

For Big John, this past weekend was great. On Saturday, he cheered for every local and regional college team. His favorite teams — the ones with names like Wolverines, Irish, Spartans, Hoosiers, and Boilermakers — all won. On Sunday, he would have rooted for the Colts and the Bears, but a Saturday full of college football left him too weak to continue on through NFL Sunday. He slept all day while visions of first downs, touch downs, and down-in-the-dirt goal line stands danced in his head. However, the thrill of win, after win, after win on Saturday fueled his addiction for more football. He needed to know how his two favorite pro teams fared.

Big John likes football. It’s his addiction — his greatest (and worst) vice.

“The Colts lost to the Bills,” grumbled Tommy Jones, who shares John’s affection for the Indianapolis Colts, but abhors the Chicago Bears.

“Uhhh,” groaned John. Some of the thrill from Saturday’s multiple victories was slowly beginning to wane.

“The Bears lost to the Packers,” added Jimmy with a scowl – Jimmy despised the Packers as much as Tommy held the Bears in contempt.

“Chicago was marching down the field, got to the twenty-nine yard line of Green Bay with four minutes remaining in the fourth,” mumble Harry – irritation showing in his tone. “They could have tied it all up.” Harry can’t stand the Colts or the Packers – he’d like to ring every cheese head with a horseshoe.

“What happened?” asked John as he tried to choke back his emotions.

“What always happens? Cutler threw an interception.” Harry curtly explained.

Big John Hudson sat down slowly, staring blankly across the diner. He remained quiet for what seemed to be hours, but was probably only just a few seconds (Big John remaining quiet for any length of time has a tendency to upset the space/time continuum). The smile of bliss that had been on his face as he entered the diner was now replaced with a forlorn expression of pain and agony.

“I hate football,” he wailed. “Stupid game.”


Larry Wilson is a mostly lifelong resident of Niles. His optimistic “glass full to overflowing” view of life shapes his writing. His essays stem from experiences, compilations and recollections from friends and family. Wilson touts himself as “a dubiously licensed teller of tall tales, sworn to uphold the precept of ‘It’s my story; that’s the way I’m telling it.’” He can be reached at