A fellow Plymouth State alumnus named Steve recently invited me to fly to Florida to meet and speak to veterans on beautiful Marco Island. Not wanting to “look a gift horse in the mouth,” I happily accepted, exchanging snow and sleet for sun and sand.
The Florida people were wonderful, although a transplanted New Yorker—an Air Force vet—sized me up with a critical eye at a social event.
“So you’re a Marine and a Red Sox fan? What a bad combination!”
I gave him a Clint Eastwood squint.
“It’s better than being an Air Force guy and a Yankee fan. That’s the worst of all worlds.”
My antagonist stared at me for a moment.
“No, the worst of all worlds would be a Navy guy who likes the Mets.”
We both laughed and did a fist bump and then the Yankee fan bought me a drink.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
My Sunshine State sojourn was a wonderful opportunity to speak, swim, and socialize. During a boat trip around the island, my host cautioned me about getting too much sun.
“Bring it on,” I exclaimed, as I removed my shirt. “It was ten below zero back home.”
I ended up with a sunburn, but that was OK.
Sports are ubiquitous in my world, of course, and circumstances required that we find an appropriate venue to watch the Patriots/Broncos showdown. That venue turned out to be the Foxboro Sports Tavern near Naples, where the walls were covered with Boston sports memorabilia and the seats were filled with New England expatriates. The lone Denver fan there had about as much chance as did the Broncos, as the Pats romped.
Golf was a must and Steve put the top down on his sporty red convertible and drove me to meet a couple friends at the Arrowhead Golf Club. I borrowed some clubs from Roger The Marco Island City Manager, but I was out of synch and didn’t play well and unfortunately lost most of my benefactor’s golf balls. It WAS cool to play on a flat course, although there were plenty of giant sand traps and water hazards.
On the back nine Steve sliced a shot toward a pond but I kept my eye on it as it rolled over a bank.
“I think I can find it,” I said and I headed towards the water, actually hoping to find some balls for Roger The City Manager to replace the ones I’d lost. I did locate Steve’s orange ball next to an old tire at the water’s edge and I saw another ball in the water which I sought to claim by scooping it up with an eight iron.
But then the “tire” straightened out and I realized it was a big old alligator. Now I’ve dealt with geese, wild turkeys, squirrels, ground hogs, and even a moose at Loudon Country Club, but never an alligator.
I stood near the gator and had an idea. I’d ask Steve to let me play his ball with my eight iron. And I’d ask him to get a phone video of me making the shot just inches from the alligator. Surely the video would go viral. I could see it making the Golf Channel! If the gator attacked, well, I’d wield my deadly eight iron.
But then Wendy The Ranger/Beer Girl, drove by in the Refreshment Cart and yelled at me.
“Hey! Get away from that alligator! What are you, some kind of nut?”
I retreated, more afraid of Wendy than the gator.
Steve got a free drop.
What was the original nickname for the Oakland pro football franchise? (Answer follows)
Born Today …
That is to say, sports standouts born on Dec. 29 include legendary Green Bay Packer middle linebacker Ray Nitschke (1936) and renowned MLB baseball executive Theo Epstein (1973).
Sportsquote “Football is not a contact sport. It is a collision sport. Dancing is a contact sport.” Michigan State football coach Duffy Daugherty
A “Name the football team” contest in Oakland in April, 1960 resulted with the “Señors” as the top choice. Nine days later the owners arbitrarily changed the team’s nickname to “Raiders,” the contest’s third place finisher.
Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and NHTI-Concord, while also teaching on-line for New England College. He co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is email@example.com.