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It's football season all over America, the NFL lockout is over, the stadiums are filled to capacity, and my adrenaline is pumping. Of course, I am re-telling stories of my glory days when my teammate was the best in the business...yes, I played football with the great Lance Alworth, Wide Receiver for the Dallas Cowboys and the San Diego Chargers. We played in front of the Brookhaven train depot when we were twelve years old, dug cinders out of our bleeding knees, and drew a crowd every Sunday afternoon. I had visions of NFL stardom for myself. Lance went on to the NFL Hall of Fame. I settled for a trumpet rather than cleats. Upon entering High School my aunt and uncle proclaimed football a "dangerous sport," and warned me that a football injury could "put you in an iron lung." They knew nothing about the game but refused to let me try out. Instead, they bought me the most expensive trumpet Werlein's Music Company had to offer.
My aunt and uncle had never been to a football game, but bought new clothes for the first game to watch me perform with the band at halftime. Lance lit up the field that night, as he would do every Friday night for the next four years at Brookhaven, and by halftime, my aunt and uncle were hooked. As I marched to the 50 yard line with my new trumpet, I looked toward their seats in the stadium only to find them empty. They were at the Concession Stand so as not to miss a second of Lance's second half performance.
My glory days of football with Lance Alworth were fleeting, but unforgettable. He was the greatest athlete I have ever known, but remains, to this day, a sensitive and humble friend.