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Aught Six

By: Stephen Micenec

Page 1, The unraveling dream the player/coach of a professional football team in 1906 - the year professional football ended in scandal.


   Try as they might, the Nailers failed to gain ground against the Tops defense. Frustrated, they resorted to a play they heard one of the college teams had tried a year earlier. They sent a young man out on the field wearing a wide leather belt with handles sewn on each side. The spectators immediately responded to the scent of desperation. Mistaking the intent of the roar, the young lad with the wide belt began strutting across the field, waving his arms above his head. For this he received a loud, encouraging ovation, the kind reserved only for those who are about to do something so stupid that there was a chance they might come to their senses and back out.

   Billy stared at the young man with a grin as wide as the field.

   Ike looked stunned by concern and disbelief. “I sure hope he’s wearing that belt to hold his pants up,” he said to Brooky in a quiet voice.

   “Not unless his balls are the size of cannon shot,” replied Brooky.

   The young, slender Nailer player lined up in the backfield between two husky backs.

   “Ready for the ride of your life, Danny Boy?” asked one of the backs.

   “Let’s fly!” said the young man, clutching the ball to his stomach.

   They started their run from 15 yards back. As they neared the line the young man jumped as the two backs began hoisting him upward.

   “Wheee,” the lad sang out as he rose above the heads of the linemen. But as he was about to sail beyond the scrimmage line he collided in mid-air with the forearms of Ike and Brooky, and was sent crashing back to his point of departure.

   “Let’s try that again,” the lad said to the two backs lifting him onto his feet by his handles.

   “Yee-ha!” cried Danny Boy as they raced toward the line. He jumped to soon, throwing the timing off, and the two backs ended up flinging him head first into the line, embedding him between the guard and center.

   “We’ll get ya over this time,” promised one of the backs.

   “It’s only five yards!” demanded the other.

   “Huh? Oh, yeah,” replied the woozy lad, and once again they started at the line. But the young man’s legs wobbled and one of the backs got ahead of the other, so when they flung him, he went sideways, falling between the two battling lines.

   Danny Boy yelped and hollered all the way down, enduring the blows from flying elbows, pummeling fists and vicious knee kicks, before disappearing into a brown cloud raising over the players’ shuffling feet. The crowd gave him one last ovation as he was carried off the field, dangling from the wide leather belt like a limp rag doll.

   After that incident, the Nailers pulled all the stops in their arsenal of dirty tricks.

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