You Say Soccer...

Pauline Nevins Feb 23, 2022 - Auburn Journal

I learned the finer points of American football decades ago in the cramped space of a South Sacramento apartment complex known as “Sin city” – unmarried tenants allowed.

My boyfriend, Jim, rolled several pairs of his thick socks into a ball – bent over – directed me and my two young children, recent arrivals from England, to stand behind him. He flipped the sock ball between his legs. That’s called a hike, he said.

Over the years, I’ve watched football with now-husband Jim, more often back in the San Francisco 49ers’ golden years when Joe Montana was quarterback and Jerry Rice the wide receiver. My husband is also a Green Bay Packers fan, mostly out of solidarity with his ex-Air Force buddy Ed, who lives in Indiana.

The recent game at Lambeau Field between the Packers and 49ers presented a dilemma: I’d quickly lose interest in American football, familiar as I was with the constant movement in British football. American players spend too much time standing around, or bent over, I’d complain.

Recently, I’ve focused on other aspects of the game. I notice and appreciate when players create a path for other players to score. I praise the clean tackles that go for the legs and trip up the runner. Reminds me of the lion who leaps forward and takes down his prey with his two front paws.

I critique some plays. Why would the quarterback pass the ball to a player whose only opening is into a wall of muscle? I protest out loud when a player knocks a caught football out of the hands of another. And by the way, do they have to hit each other so hard? I cover my eyes on those replays.