Football Days eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 400 pages of information about Football Days.

“Bob Church risked his life more than once in the Spanish War and for his valor he received a Medal of Honor from Congress, but it is safe to say that he never got such a gruelling as in this Harvard game.  He was battered to the extent of finding it difficult to rise after tackling and finally he was lining up on his knees.  It was a magnificent exhibition of pluck.  As I recall, Bob lasted to the end of the game.

“It was not until near the close that any scoring took place and then Harvard made two touchdowns in quick succession.  We lacked substitutes to put in and, even if we had had them, it is doubtful whether we could have got them in as long as a player was able to stand up.  The only satisfaction we had was that we had done the best we could to win and our confidence that with Cowan we could have won even if Holden had not been hurt.  We had beaten Harvard the year before with essentially the same team that we played in this game.”



It is almost possible, I think, to divide football men into two distinct classes—­those who are made into players (and often very good ones) by the coaches and those who are born with the football instinct.  Just how to define football instinct is a puzzle, but it is very easy to discern it in a candidate, even if he never saw a football till he set foot on the campus.  By and large, it will be read first in a natural aptitude for following the ball.  After that, in the general way he has of handling himself, from falling on the ball to dodging and straight arm.  Watch the head coach grin when some green six-foot freshman dives for a rolling ball and instinctively clutches it into the soft part of his body as he falls on it.  Nobody told him to do it just that way, or to keep his long arms and legs under control so as to avoid accident, but he does it nevertheless and thus shows his football instinct.

There is still another kind of football instinct, and that is the kind that is passed down from father to son and from brother to brother.  They say that the lacemakers of Nottingham don’t have to be taught how to make lace because, as children, they somehow absorb most of the necessary knowledge in the bosom of their family, and I think the same thing is true of sons and brothers of football players.  Generally, they pick up the essentials of the game from “Pop” long before they get to school or college or else are properly educated by an argus-eyed brother.


Johnson Edgar Allen
Arthur Nelson Gresham Johnny


But the matter of getting football knowledge—­of developing the instinct—­isn’t always left to the boy.  Unless I’m grievously mistaken it’s more often the fond father who takes the first step.  In fact, some fathers I’ve known have, with a commendable eye to future victories, even dated the preparation of their offspring from the hour when he was first shown them by the nurse:  “Let me take a squint at the little rascal,” says the beaming father and expertly examines the young hopeful’s legs.  “Ah, hah, bully!  We’ll make a real football player out of him!”

Project Gutenberg
Football Days from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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