Linemen Are Unsung Heroes Of The Gridiron


Only those who have played football on the offensive line or coached linemen can truly appreciate the self-effacing humor of the group.

While there are brash quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers who thrive on praise and adulation, linemen are for the most part unassuming and more than willing to good naturedly chide themselves and their positions on the team.

Linemen also pride themselves on being blue collar, lunch pail type workers who go about their job not expecting much glory.

They seem to thrive on that inconspicuous image and sometimes downplay their roles on the team, in a sort of “oh shucks” way.

In particular, I fondly remember the “Bruise Brothers” linemen I had the privilege of coaching at PHS in the late 1980s.

They wanted to project an image of being unsung, overachieving players who did the dirty work while others received the praise.

They often contended, “None of us will ever be homecoming king, the prettiest girls in school wouldn’t date us, we won’t make the honor roll and we wear faded old Levis, drive broken down pickup trucks and listen to country music.”

Of course much of that was nonsense — almost every one of them went on to earn college degrees, are successful in their careers and married beautiful wives.

One of the Bruise Brothers, Eric Anderson — now a very successful Payson dentist — was even named PHS homecoming king in1987.

Linemen go about their gridiron jobs knowing they’ll never receive much credit for what they do and when things go awry, they’ll probably be blamed.

In the pros and in college, the only time linemen are featured on TV is when they are flagged for holding or off-side penalties.

At Payson High over the years, I remember games with a running back tripping and falling for a loss in the backfield all the while hearing from the stands, shouts of “Come on line, block!”

Such is the nature of the players that some coaches good-naturedly call “grunts” and “buffalos.”

Deep inside, linemen live by the creed, “Anyone can carry a football, it’s not heavy.”

Simply put, if a player doesn’t have confidence and a sense of humor about himself and his job, he probably won’t be on the line of scrimmage for long.

While some might never understand a lineman’s eccentric mentality, a recent quote from Arizona Cardinal center Lyle Sendlein pretty well sums it up.

In an interview with media, he explained the culture of those in the trenches by deadpanning, “We (linemen) are mostly dirty, nasty, farting, burping guys, so we all get along.”

Now, that’s a lineman’s lineman.

Rained out

Mother Nature played cruel tricks on those who organized the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) expo that was to be held July 21 at the Tonto Rim Sports Association’s Jim Jones Shooting Range south of Payson.

Monsoon downpours that drenched the range forced SASS Match Director Avery Clontz to cancel the shoot-out.

The next shoot will now be held Aug. 18 and the third Sunday of each month thereafter. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the competition at 9 a.m.

Clontz, who in SASS competition goes by the name “Rowdy Lane,” recently founded the Payson Cowboys which will compete on the SASS circuit.

Lane calls the Cowboys, “an affiliated shooting discipline of the Tonto Rim Sports Club” and claims single action shooting is “the fastest growing shooting sport in the United States.”

SASS shooting is unique in that the so-called “cowboys” are required to adopt a shooting alias appropriate to a character from the late 19th century, a Hollywood western star or a character from western fiction.

The SASS maintains a names registry and requires that an alias may not in any way be duplicated or be confused with any other member’s alias.

Once the alias is chosen, the SASS members must develop an appropriate costume that fits their chosen character.

Also in the shoots, contestants must compete with firearms typical of those used in the Old West.

For more information on SASS, call Clontz (or “Lane”) at (575) 937-9297.


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