We played touch football in gym class in eighth grade, and I usually served as center. I was slow of foot and posed no offensive threat as a runner or receiver. But I could consistently hike the ball and was sneaky good at holding up pass rushers.
One day near the end of a close game, our quarterback, Chris Cochran, waited too long to get rid of the ball. Two guys got past me. I turned back to see if Cochran had been sacked and saw him backpedaling away from his tormentors. He yelled my name and flipped the ball to me. I bobbled and caught it and ran down field.
All my teammates besides Chris were still running pass routes, and their defenders remained glued to them. They turned to look back in shock as they saw me heading toward them. One defender, the fastest boy in our grade, saw the ball tucked in the crook of my arm. His eyes widened with disbelief, and he finally tore himself away from his man and veered into my path. I cut to the left and let two other players get into his way. I assumed that he would catch me from behind and continued to zigzag my way through scatterings of players.
My route cleared completely the last twenty yards, and I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been downed yet. I made one more cut to the left when I neared the goal line and scored.
My teammates didn’t celebrate my 50 yard touchdown. Instead they laughed, pointed at the other side, and mocked them for their ineptitude. “You let Schmalstig score!” they jeered.
When we returned to our classroom, one of my guys came up to me and said, “Hey, you sure got lucky.” I smiled and said nothing. He added, “Because you suck at football. And you were so surprised when Chris threw that ball to you, you almost dropped it.”