Let me preface this by saying that I love Super Bowl Sunday. I love the parties. I love the pageantry. I love the half-time show. I love the ads. I love the fans.
But I really don't understand football.
Now don't get me wrong. I get the basics. Take the ball to the endzone--you get points. Kick it through that big tuning fork--you get points. It's the nuances and all little tiny rules that totally evade me.
Thus the Billy Hickey Theory of Football. You may be asking yourself, "Who on earth is Billy Hickey?" Well Billy is that kid that every one of us had in our neighborhood growing up. Remember that kid who ran with your group who was sort of a nerd and everyone sort of picked on him but he was OUR nerd and WE could pick on him and God help the person outside our group who tried to start with him.
I call that kid Billy Hickey.
I believe that football was created solely to make sure that Billy Hickey could never win. Picture it, if you will. A bunch of boys have a ball that is not really round any more. One of their Dad's probably ran over it in the driveway. As the dad drove away, I'm imagining he yelled out the window "you're lucky it wasn't your damn foot!" But the ball still has air in it and you can still throw it. It just doesn't really bounce any more. So they make up a game and they decide to call it football.
The plan is they split into two teams--most likely shirts and skins--and declare each end of the parking lot the "end zone". The goal is for each team to get the ball down to the opposite end of the field and into the end zone. At this point, Billy Hickey points out that this is somewhat derivative of Dungeon Dodge.
The cute boy in the group (the one that all us girls sitting on the wall watching are secretly hoping is on the skins team) makes the first rule. No Billy he says, it's not like Dungeon Dodge at all. You can throw the ball and run with it but all the guys on the other team can try to knock you down. Frankly, I think the whole knocking each other down thing is a direct result of "Cute Boy" being annoyed at Billy for using the word derivative.
But I digress.
So the boys start knocking each other down and realize that this is going to be really hard so they make another rule. You only have to get ten yards without losing the ball completely and then you get to start over again and try for another ten yards. Since this is directly related to the whole knocking down thing, they calls these "downs".
So "Cute Boy" gets the ball and makes it 2 yards. "Funny Boy" gets the ball and makes it another 2 yards. "Dumb Boy" gets the ball and makes it another 2 yards. "Smart-ass Boy" gets the ball and, lo and behold, makes it 2 more yards.
Then Billy gets the ball and makes it 3 yards. Whoo Hoo! Billy is excited. He has made the 10 yards. And at that point, the other team calls a time out and makes another rule. You only have four "downs" so, sorry Billy, you're outaluck!
Of course Billy agrees to this. As he picks himself up off the ground, he realizes that his ice cream money has fallen out of his pocket. "Smart-ass Boy" tries to steal one of his quarters but "Cute Boy" gives him knuckle punches until he gives Billy his quarter back. The rest of the boys raz him and call him "Quarterback" for the rest of the day.
The afternoon progresses. The game progresses (with a lot of stopping and starting) and every time Billy Hickey succeeds, there's a time out while everyone decides that, no Billy, you didn't succeed. You see, there was another rule. But good try Buddy. Maybe next time.
Oh no Billy, you're thinking of a yellow flag. That move gets a red flag--it's different.
Oh no Billy, you can't stand over their off to the side waiting for the ball. You were offsides.
Oh no Billy, when you kicked the ball, even though it went over the sidewalk, it didn't go between those two trees. Sorry, no points for you.
And so on and so on until the streetlights come on and everyone has to go home. Rather than doing his homework that night, "Dumb Boy" spends the evening writing down all of the rules which he painstakingly copies out for everyone and hands them out at school the next day.
And that's how we got Football.
Happy Super Bowl Sunday everyone. And may the best team win.
P.S. Billy Hickey went on to make millions in the tech market and he has a private box at the stadium. He flew there on his private plane with his private chef and his super model wife.
"Cute Boy" went bald; "Funny Boy" is still telling the same jokes; "Smart-ass Boy" got arrested for stealing a car and then leaving his driver's license in the glove compartment; and "Dumb Boy" turned out to be a really, really good snow plow driver. They are all watching the game together in the basement of the Dad who ran over the ball in the first place.