This column is about the silent pride of the fullback. The thankless, painful pursuit of not making mistakes. I have often been jealous of the carefree, high profile world of the forwards. It seems that when they make a mistake it doesn’t matter, when they do a good job, they are heros. That doesn’t seem fair when compared to the fullbacks world where a rushed pass under pressure leads to a goal for the opposition, and a perfect clearance may justify a high five, if and only if, it leads to a goal by the forwards.
One game a season or two back I got a chance to play a few shifts at forward. It was great, the weight of the world was off my shoulders. I met up with my line mates at center, they didn’t seem to even be worrying about their positions. We talked about where to buy a good cigar, investment strategies, and compared and contrasted the latest release of sport utilities. Then the Roadrunner halfs appeared with the ball, suddenly my new friends were gone. Like coiled springs they waited on the wings. When the ball was passed they sprinted for goal, with me a distant third. Moments later the same thing happened again, and again and I was starting to wonder how many 50 yard sprints I had left in me. What struck me about these adventures was the long walk back to half when we didn’t score. No one yelled or pointed fingers but it sure was quiet. I felt the weight come back on to my shoulders.
I returned to my regular position later that game and was welcomed home. The center fullback asked how I liked it up there. I told him the fame, women, drugs and paparazzi were starting to get to me. I managed to break up a two on one break away later that game, I was sure proud.