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What it was, was football


Andy Griffith recorded a monologue for Colonial Records in 1953 entitled “What is Was, Was Football.” Colonial sold more than 50,000 of Griffith’s records before selling the copyright and master copy of the recording to Capitol Records. Capitol released their copy of Griffith’s record the same year and sold almost 800,000 copies, launching Griffith onto his path to stardom.

Griffith describes a football stadium in typical Southern colloquialism: “And what I seen was this whole raft o’ people a-settin’ on these two banks, and a-looking at one-another across this pretty green cow pasture.”

Then Griffith explained, “And, friends, I seen that evenin’ the awfulest fight that I have ever seen in my life! They’d run at one-another, an’ kick one-another, an’ th’ow one-another down, and stomp on one-another, an’ grind their feet in one-another, an’ I don’t know what-all! And just as fast as one of ‘em ‘d get hurt, they’d tote him off and run another one on.”

This year’s college football season was fairly lackluster for most Georgia teams. The Georgia Bulldogs had their first losing season in 14 years, posting a 6-7 record. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets also had a 6-7 record with both UGA and Tech losing their bowl games. If a college football team fails to qualify for a bowl game these days they are “rebuilding,” in decline or just plain awful.

Georgia Southern’s Eagles managed to get in the NCAA FCS Playoffs with a 7-4 record, but lost to Delaware in the semifinal round of the championship series.

The Shorter Hawks failed to log their fifth straight winning record with a season-ending loss to the Bethel University Wildcats. The Georgia State University Panthers had a winning record in their inaugural season of football by posting a 6-5 record.

The temptation in life is to allow good things to become ultimate things and nothing on this earth is ultimate.

I was actually hoping that Shorter would beat GSU in the first game of the season and that GSU would beat the Alabama Crimson Tide in their final game of the season, because in my premature imagination that unlikely scenario would have made it possible for me to argue that Shorter could be justified as the National Champions of college football, but then, of course, the Crimson Tide relinquished their 2009 national championship status to Auburn.

On the other hand, the National Football League provided a considerable amount of excitement for those individuals who cheered for the resurgent Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons marched triumphantly though the regular season with a 13-3 record. Only the 14-2 New England Patriots had a more successful season. In fact, as a result of their remarkably triumphant seasons the Falcons and the Patriots earned a bye in the first round of the playoffs.

I concluded these two teams would face off in the Super Bowl. The Falcons, due to their remarkable season won home field advantage throughout the playoffs and appeared to be practically invincible, unassailable and impregnable at the Georgia Dome. Coach Mike Smith had a career 20-4 record at home as Falcons’ coach before the Green Bay Packers came to town for the first playoff game.

Regarding the Falcons, the Atlanta Journal Constitution stated, “It’s a game of momentum, and right now the Atlanta Falcons have it … It’s tangible. It’s in the body language, the belief in yourself.”

The Falcons’ faithful dreamed of Atlanta continuing their victor’s march through the playoffs and winning the opportunity to meet the American Football League Champion in Dallas at Cowboy Stadium on Feb. 6th. Incidentally, Cowboy Stadium is the largest domed stadium in the world and has the world’s largest column-free interior. It has a standing room capacity of 110,000 and cost $1.12 billion.

According to TicketCity, a website that sells Super Bowl tickets, the price range includes upper Endzone tickets for $1,892 to Field Suite tickets for $211,200. I got off the website as quickly as possible for fear I would click the wrong button and end up with four or five tickets by accident and consequently face sudden abject poverty.

Football is great for entertainment and rest, but just make sure you put it in its place.

Since the Washington Redskins, the most southern team in the NFL when I was a boy and the team for which I have cheered since Noah was a pup, disintegrated again in mid-season, I decided to be a Falcon fan until they suffered defeat or won the coveted Lombardi Trophy at Dallas in February.

The Falcon defeat came much earlier than I expected. In fact, it came in the Falcons’ first playoff game against Green Bay. It was an embarrassing, lopsided defeat that made Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who was standing on the sidelines near the end of the game, look like someone had licked all the red off his candy. In fact, for the home team, I am not at all sure that “what it was, was football.”

From reading this editorial you can easily see that I am a football fan. And at this point I need to acknowledge my sweet wife who endured with great patience my fairly dedicated commitment to watching a considerable amount of football bowl games on television in December and January. The tradeoff, however, is that I will watch the Food Network and Home and Garden TV until the Chick-fil-A Kick Off Classic in Atlanta on Sept. 3rd.

The temptation in life is to allow good things to become ultimate things and nothing on this earth is ultimate. We must resist every temptation to elevate football, baseball, hunting, shopping or anything else to the level of our allegiance to God. It is impossible to elevate the things of this world without denigrating God, who has no rivals.

South Carolina pastor Perry Noble proclaimed, “If the performance of your favorite football team impacts your attitude to the point where you are hateful towards other people, impacts your worship of Jesus or even affects whether or not you attend church … then you have an idolatry problem.”

If you are a fan, and a great majority of people in the South are, remember where your allegiance lies. Football is great for entertainment and rest, but just make sure you put it in its place.

Football is so temporary. In fact, I honestly had to think really hard to remember who won the Super Bowl last year. So, focus on the eternal!