Friday, October 11, 2013

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I'm trying to remember the crazy rules we used when we played football in grammar school. It all made sense at the time and was probably the best set of rules given the parameters at hand.

The field was about a third of the length of a city block and went tackle-touch-tackle. We were allowed to use all of the land from the street up to the staircase of the bungalow or edge of somebody's bushes. The first patch of grass next to the street was tackle. The sidewalk in the middle was tag, and the chunk of grass from the sidewalk to the staircases and bushes was tackle. If you were on the cement and someone wrapped you up you were technically down, though you could expect to be pulled down into the neighboring grass for good measure. If you were tackled near the bushes, you were probably going to get shoved into the bushes. John Martin's house was set back and had twice the front grass as the rest of the block. It was a great place to expand your passing lanes, though his dad always rumbled outside and complained that our running was shaking the house inside. I have no clue what was going on in there, though I doubt it was watchmaking.

The rule for first downs was two completions. Completions were successful passes. The yardage did not matter, only that it was caught. There were quite a few screen passes on 3rd down that ended up in losses. First down regardless.

We were free to run the ball, but it didn't contribute to first downs so who cared. The quarterback was allowed to run a sneak if they yelled, "Sneak!" That rule puzzles me now.

The rusher stood in front of the QB with arms raised as they counted "One-onethousand" up to ten, at which point they were free to blitz. They could also blitz immediately if they yelled, "Blitz!" at any time.

It is my hazy memory that you could only sneak and blitz once per possession. I guess this kept the game one of short passes where everyone was in play every down. Wise plan.

I may be remembering it incorrectly, but I doubt it, having played it everyday for about 5 years. As we grew older and braver in our abilities to ride our bikes farther away we dabbled in playing on large grass fields, but it was never the same. It always seemed more fun on a tight Chicago street bordered by parked cars and bungalows, even if you'd get tattooed by a tree in the middle of the grass now and then.

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