Alan Catlin

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

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