By Jim Lee
We’re halfway through another NFL season already. It seems like only a week or so since the first of the preseason games, wondering which team would win a Super Bowl appearance or claim first place in felony convictions. Time sure goes by quickly when we’re having fun.
My wife and I enjoy watching NFL football games together, although we do have differences regarding our teams. Saundra prefers the Buffalo Bills and the San Diego Chargers, preferably the Bills.
The Bills have been her team for years. When they traded quarterback Doug Flutie to the Chargers, that became her team. When Flutie retreated to the bench and settled into his 40s, she decided to halfway return her loyalty to the Bills. Why not? After all, they seem to lose equally well.
My teams are the Rams or the Detroit Lions when they’re on TV instead of the Rams. You may have noticed that I left off the name of the Rams’ city. That’s because I simply can’t bring myself to including the name of their current location. To me, they will always be the Los Angeles Rams. To admit otherwise would be like admitting the Red Sox can beat the Yankees or that the Dodgers will leave Brooklyn.
“What’s with all this football stuff?” I hear you ask in eager curiosity. Well, it all started with a simple question that had a difficult answer. A few days ago Saundra asked me what gridiron meant.
I got two immediate shocks from that one: one, that somebody smarter than I would ask me about anything and, two, I didn’t have an answer any more than she did. Fortunately, I managed to stall off my reply long enough to sneak to the other room to look it up.
I discovered that Webster’s New World Dictionary says a gridiron is “a framework of metal bars or wires in which to broil meat or fish.” It also said a gridiron is a grill.
No doubt many players have felt grilled after a tough game, and many must have felt like human sacrifices, but I had no idea that could be meant literally.
After my burst of giggling died away, I checked a little deeper into the meaning and discovered that gridiron also refers to any framework that looks like a grill, or simply a football field.
I must have heard that term eleventy-hundred times, but I never really knew what it meant or why anything in this delightfully brutal pastime would have such an odd sounding designation.
With this new knowledge firmly packed into my aching neurons, I pranced back into the living room and answered my dear wife’s question. Of course I did not reveal that I had just learned about it myself. Don’t ask, don’t tell, right? Omission ain’t commission, so not saying isn’t exactly lying, right?
Would it be pushing things too far by volunteering things she didn’t ask because I happened to notice them while trying to find out something about gridiron? Would that impress her as much as trying to respond to Jeopardy! clues? Naw, no time to go look up stuff during the TV show.
So maybe I should add “harpaston” to “gridiron.” How many people know (or care) that harpaston was an ancient Greek sport in which participants tried to throw, kick, or run a ball over a goal line? How many people know that during the Civil War The Oneida Football Club came up with a soccer/rugby hybrid they called The Boston Game and we now call American football? Fascinating, eh?
Now, about why the Dodgers left Brooklyn and the bathroom faucet drips …
Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail: