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Grit And Guts On The Gridiron - 1

Mud and leather
dirt and nerve
bloodied laughter
collision to serve,
distance, drive and demolition
battle axe ambition in the wild air
muscle and mind joined in steeled instinct, 
a stitched pigskin ball, the grail of the Fall
to fumble it means spleen infamy
while intercepting it invokes Victory's voice,
in the huddle a plan is revealed firmly by the Field General
and the men move into attack formation
as the Defense swaggers with malice to menace the neutral zone,
the Quarterback becomes a hollering harlequin
inciting misdirection,  feigning action, teasing the tigers
suddenly the warword is exclaimed,  "Hut!"
the warzone is afire, bodies are banging
torn green turf spicing the nostrils
the sound of ripped jersey threads intones brute surge
metal facemasks scrape within frenzied scrimmage, 
spines in the audience stiffen in anticipation of vengeance
chop blocks and head slaps are underway
the Passer fakes pitch right and bootlegs left
Linemen begin to froth in a riptide to the flank
the Center neutralizes the Nose Tackle with leveraged strikes to the ribs
a rolling block by the Right Gaurd collapses the rabid Defensive End
as the Tight End belates a blitz
but suffers a forearm to the throat by a snarling Linebacker,
beyond the tumult of the titans upfront
the sprint and dash of leopards and lions is on,
well rehearsed and timed patterns are disrupted disrespectfully
in one on one pawing and punching
the Receiver is desperately defiant
as the Cornerback pursues him like a cold psycho,
the ball is launched in last second leadership
and it flies like a spinning rocket
the Quarterback takes a helmet to the jaw
no infraction, just a simple payment for the price of honor, 
through the flurried air the ball crests and cruises
coming down into the action with immaculate velocity
one target, two claimants
two strides, one prize,
a single step separates them from glory
the football finds the Receiver's flexed fingers
like a Lady's love bombshell
death itself could not wedge the catch
the score is his,
brought down to the earth
by a horsecollar tackle
the pain is sharp, the victory sure,

This was American football before the 21st century,
before the glitter and gimps
when gladiators roamed the torn grounds
and stood for their Nation's Anthem, 
I often think about, and admire
the men who sacrificed themselves
in order to make pro football a wonder throughout the world
the coaches and players who succeeded
in bringing a sophisticated and savage war into professional sport,
men like Red Grange who once said to kids,
"Football teaches you how to take a lick without crying about it,
and how to give one without bragging about too...",
I'm inspired by the 2 minute drill Johnny Unitas invented,
it's strategic efficiency and how it won championships,
Johnny's first pass in the NFL was a pick six againgst the Bears in '56
yet he believed in his arm and heart,
becoming a legitimate American icon,
while in the pocket, aiming for glory
Unitas was struck in the face by a Rusher's paw,
in the huddle his nose was gushing blood thickly,
his teammates were concerned for their leader,
Johnny scooped some mud off the field
and stuffed it into his nostrils telling his Center,
"Its alright baby, we're gonna score!",
Jim Brown, impossible to intimidate, 
he ran to be bold, he believed bruises were gold,
"Concrete Charlie" Bednarik laid out Frank Gifford
at the Polo Grounds in 1960 with a one arm death strike,
when Minnesota still had the balls to play outdoors
they procured the "Purple People Eaters" of the '70's,
cerebral and horned, harassing backfields demonicly,
getting to three Superbowls in fours years
the Viking were exorcised each time, never wining the trophy,
their Defensive Tackle Allen Page
is the only defensive lineman to earn the MVP Award
and after retiring became a Judge,
Lambeau Field, aka. "The Frozen Tundra"
is the Mecca of of pro football,  theater for a ruggid religion
it is the oldest, it is the fittest, 
green and gold are the colors of the pigskin sanctuary
and in it's open knave battle is celebrated, 
trailing the Dallas Cowboys 14-17 late in the 1967 Championship game,
Bart Starr, a stoic assassin,  and greatest Quarterback of all time,
with wind chills negative 40 degrees in Green Bay
told his coach Vince Lombardi that he could win the contest
with a QB sneak at the 1 yard line,
Starr stood behind his Center,
arms outstretched like a militant martyr, 
staring with serene lethality into Bob Lilly's burning eyes,
he took the snap, spearing himself forward into the savage den,
it was the "Ice Bowl", and its emblematic of self sacrifice, 
in 1972 the Miami Dolphins achieved the unimaginable, 
the perfect season, 17-0, their "No Name Defense"
and Running Back Larry Csonka,
more a killer whale than a dolphin
outsmarted, outpunched, and outscored everyone,
they will be forever undefeated, 


Copyright © | Year Posted 2016

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Date: 12/11/2016 2:50:00 PM
Hi Justin, I'm with Paloma, I'm not a big fan of football. But I'm fan of your incredible pen. This piece was no exception. Well done . A without a doubt seven:-) Alexis PS, I apologize for not coming by sooner.
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Justin Bordner
Date: 12/16/2016 6:49:00 PM
Never apologize for being beautiful Alexis...Justin
Date: 11/2/2016 7:00:00 PM
If only Football was still as passionate, as intense as you make it in this piece of work...I being a fan for years... having sat and watched it with my Father as we yelled or quietly watched our team win or lose....your poem brings back memories..... beings back meaning.....-Love Ettie
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Justin Bordner
Date: 11/3/2016 8:33:00 PM
Yes Ettie, there is a strange kind of boring, rife throughout all professional sports now. The UFC is the only athletic contest that provides the type of skill, danger and personality that I can admire these days. I will never watch a modern football game ever again, including the Superbowl. I am grateful that my poem summons those memories for you and elicits the excitement that once embodied pro football...J.A.B.
Date: 11/2/2016 3:56:00 PM
I'm not even a fan of the sport, but this was so skillfully written, I made it all the way to the end zone. :) Captcha is JET, don't know if you're a fan.
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Justin Bordner
Date: 11/2/2016 6:25:00 PM
We can get across the goal line together Paloma...if JET stands for Just Eternally Tempting than yes Poetess...J.A.B.
Date: 11/1/2016 3:39:00 PM
"spines in the audience stiffen in anticipation of vengeance" Love that line, as I would stiffen in the audience just that way.. lol, I love how you set the poem up in the middle of action. Awesome imagery as you are great at doing..."torn green turf spicing the nostrils" Love that line as well - it really puts the reader in the piece. I don't know a lot about football, but I found this composition quite exciting and inspiring. Always, Laura
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Justin Bordner
Date: 11/2/2016 1:08:00 AM
A single skirmish, in any given game of traditional football would reveal every aspect of the sport, and the spirit of the men battling Laura. On any given play a player may suffer crippling injury, display dominance, feel the panic of failure, or taste the red heat of affirmed pride. Every man had a mission, the success of which directly impacted his team's potential triumph. I wanted to harness, and release the athleticism, intelligence, diligence and inherent poetry that was once pro football...J.A.B.