I have had a Bruce Springsteen song stuck in my head for a few days. “Glory Days,” has always been one of my favorite Springsteen songs. I like it because it so brilliantly combines an upbeat melody with melancholy, almost tragic lyrics. Like “Born in the USA,” which is often misunderstood to be a hyper-patriotic anthem (see Wrangler commercials and Ronald Reagan), “Glory Days” is often misunderstood to be a happy song waxing nostalgic about good memories.
Instead, it is a biting look at people that are unable to escape their past. It is about sad people unable to accept their current condition, but waste away pining about their “Glory Days.”
I guess I’ve been thinking about that song because I don’t want it to be about me. I’ve been working out for the last few months, and I’ve gotten myself into pretty good shape. I am now stronger than I’ve ever been in my life. I can bench press 225 pounds 10 times. I can leg press 500 pounds 10 times. I am still fat, but underneath I can feel and see muscle that had sort of gone away for awhile. In addition to getting stronger, I have lowered my cholesterol into the safe zone for the first time in years. My first motivator to get back to the gym was to be healthier, but there has been another motivator in the back of my mind.
I want to play football again.
Real football. Should pads and helmets football. I want to play for the Twin City Dawgs, a semi-pro football team that plays a ten game schedule over the summer in Chenoa and other cities in Illinois. Last year I was in the press box, doing the PA or doing the scoreboard. Next year I want to be on the field.
Maybe its a midlife crisis a few years ahead of schedule. If so, there are certainly worse things that I could do, yet I’m terrified that I’m going to be that guy in the song, “telling boring stories about my glory days.”
Yet here’s the thing: I never had any glory days. My glory days were taken from me by an assistant coach that didn’t believe in me. I didn’t start my senior year in high school. If it was because I wasn’t as good as the guy that did start, it wouldn’t bother me, but I’ve never believed that. So I’m preparing 15 years later to embark on a journey that could endanger my very livelihood. Maybe I’m not the one talking about my glory days. Maybe I’m searching for them. I know that is not a good reason to endanger myself in a violent, dangerous game.
I also know that I want to be a part of the team. I want to be a positive influence in the lives of the 50 young men on the team. I am not going in to convert anybody, but I want to expand my mission field, and reach people that might never otherwise approach a church. I want to inspire people at my church, especially the young people, to reach for goals that seem impossible. And yes, I want to prove to myself that I can do it. Is that really such a bad thing?
The try-out is Saturday. I talked to the coach today. There won’t be any pads. We’ll do some agility and speed testing. We’ll do break into positions, and we’ll do some 7-on-7. I am going to see where I fit. I’m going to talk to the coach, my wife, and my health insurance company, and figure out what I can contribute.
I have no business being on a football team, and I know that. I might, however, contribute something to the team anyway. I might contribute something to a young man searching for God. I might contribute something to the community of Chenoa. I might contribute something to someone wondering if they can achieve something they have no business achieving.
I’m going to give it a shot. Say a prayer for me. I’ll need it.