God and the NFL Were the twin pillars Of his religion. Don’t Get him started on the AFL. The biggest regret of his life was not being able to play organized ball. He had the size, the ability, the desire but a world war got in the way. Then a heavy accelerated course load of highly technical subjects. As an adult, he taught Sunday school, then worshiped at the church of football, like a mad priest in an ecstatic frenzy. He preached on the vagaries of zone coverage and the pure visceral thrill of brutal contact, venerating crippling tackles, knock out blocks, venerating the courage of tight ends who took hits over the middle and never dropped a pass. He bestowed upon them his highest praise: hard nose. Said they were warriors. Real men. Knew the meaning of big balls as if the more macho you were, the better man you would be. I often wondered how he felt When the baddest of them all came out. Said he had struggled with his sexuality all his life and that he had been secretly gay all through his career. That he was dying now and it didn’t matter who knew. I wondered if that meant he had AIDS, that he no longer had great hands, true grit in the crease where manliness mattered.