Categorized | Opinion

Understanding Redneck Football Rules

By Otis Griffin

When all my friends reached the fifth grade at Rosemark grammar we were allowed to play organized football.   At this time we knew very little about actual football rules. Before school football we got an education in community knock down, get tromped on and try to survive neighborhood warfare playing maybe pasture or yard football.

There were not many boys in our community so the bigger boys had to choose us to make an even number on the sides.  The best I recollect, it seems the rules were made up as we went along.  This meant the bigger boys spent more time fussing and scrapping than playing.  Emerson and Phil jogged my memory with us little runts as we were just allowed to block and try to tackle someone big like Jackie, Herbert or J. W.  Yeah right!

Folks, even at this age we played on the church grounds at the ARP church on the corner that still stands and a monumental landmark.   Lynn reminded me that we usually started out playing ‘touch’ which was a form off touching the ball carrier with two hands below the belt.  I understand this evolved later into a flag game that had some thrown away see through dish rags hanging out the pockets of their blue jeans and if you snatched one, the other side hollered ‘calf rope’.

For you city slickers ‘calf rope’ means you give up.  Rednecks are smart and we have our own secret way of conversing.

Some of the older boys marked off the out of bounds which on one goal line end was a row of pecan trees.

One side out of bounds was a ditch and the opposite was a few feet this side of the brick church building.  Running in to the bricks hurt since you just bounced off and got scratched like running through a blackberry thicket.

The goal line was several feet this side of the tall grass bordering Mr. T. D.’s eight foot garden fence.

Neighbor, later on during our front porch talks Momma reminded how we got banged up, but that was just a way of life.  No way was anyone gonna’ be called a ‘sissy’.  Sometimes I got my pockets ripped and my britches knees stitched with the twelfth patch by Momma with no complaints.

Oft times we needed a referee and we were fortunate as ‘Miss’ Bonnie McCullough was the telephone operator just across the road at Mr. ‘Babe’ Howard’s exchange.  She wore those ear phones like Sky King in the picture shows and stuck those little prongs with long wires on the end and twirled that little handle similar to an ESSO gas pump so folks would talk to one another.

‘Miss’ Bonnie’s hearing had to be good enough to hear a mouse snore on a bale of cotton because when there was a fight, she’d fly through the front screened door and bound on the front porch and extinguish the fire immediately even with encased ear phones.  A sudden hush would envelope and all returned to organized chaos.

Friends that is how we learned to play football.  We didn’t have any money and no pads, just a hard head and some stinking feet.  But we do have our wonderful memories growing up in the dear South….Glory!

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