The Time I Discovered I’d Mistakenly Drafted a British Exchange Student

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Our first practice was at Dodge Field on a blazing Tuesday afternoon during the first week of August. I spent most of the practice walking around and observing each position group to get a better sense of what we had to work with.

As I walked past our wide receivers, I overheard one of them say he was “keen to start catching some balls.” I watched wide receiver drills for a few minutes and saw the same player drop a few passes in a row and say he was having a “jolly tough time.” I marched over and yanked him out of line.

“What did I just hear you say?”

“Oh, sorry. I was just telling the other chaps that it’s a little tough trying to catch real passes!” And with that, my worst fears were confirmed. This kid was speaking in a goddamn British accent.

“Take your helmet off right now,” I snapped, and the kid complied. He had an expensive haircut and looked clean and hygienic—never a good sign.

“Son, I think you’ve wondered onto the wrong practice field. And probably into the wrong country. What’s your name?”

“Ian Simpson.”

“You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me. So you’re the new kid who can supposedly run fast? Are you British or something?”

“Yes, sir. I’m from London.”

“Then what in god’s name are you doing out here?”

“I’m an exchange student. I’m lodging with the Johnson family this semester. Marshall and Jeanie Johnson. They thought it’d be good for me to experience some real American football.” Ian smiled earnestly, making me angrier.

“First off, Ian, if I hear you say the word ‘lodging’ again, I’ll call the police and have you deported. This is America. We stopped saying shit like that in 1776. Second, have you ever played football before?”

“Mr. Johnson has tossed the football with me in the back yard a few times.”

“Super,” I said with no enthusiasm. I’d known Marshall and Jeanie Johnson for years. They were local do-gooders who graduated from Berry College, lived in Atlanta for a time, and then moved back here to “give back” to the community where they grew up. They owned a “sustainable, locally-sourced” coffee shop, The Ethical Brew, that employed every sour, lip-ringed teenager in a twenty-mile radius. Marshall and Jeanie spent their free time volunteering at the humane society. Marshall and I played high school football together. He was a gangly and a terrible wide receiver who only got pity snaps on special teams as a senior. I had no respect for him as player or a person. The same went for Jeanie, who was a bassoonist in the high school marching band and a National Honor Society member.

“Well, Ian, it’s obvious from the drills so far that you couldn’t catch tea if you fell into Boston Harbor, so we won’t be calling you by your real name. From now on, you’re Lord Stonehands on this field. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Coach.”

“Now get the hell out of my sight.”

The Glorious Story of My Lone High School Football Touchdown

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I was a prolific downfield blocking wide receiver in high school. By my count, my blocking was responsible for over 5,000 yards rushing and 75+ touchdowns in my three-year career. If touchdowns were an equitable endeavor, I would be remembered as one of the most prolific scorers in Georgia High School Football history. Sadly, we live in a society that values carrying a ball across a line more than inflicting physical destruction on opposing defenses. For my career, I had 12 receptions for 97 yards and 1 touchdown. This is the story of that one glorious score.

It was a clear and crisp night in late October, 1996. We were playing our main rival in front of a sold-out home crowd. Early in the fourth quarter, we were losing 24-17. But we were driving deep in the opponent’s territory and facing a third and goal from the five-yard line. Coach called timeout and summoned us to the sideline.

He explained that we would be running Bubble Screen Right, which would put me right in the center of the action. There would be two receivers to the right—I would be out wide, and Jeremy Evans would be in the slot. I hated Jeremy. He was one of those overenthusiastic, clean-cut, Fellowship of Christian Athletes types with a permanent smile on his face. He loved telling people that he “didn’t need alcohol to have a good time.” Worse yet, he was a National Honor Society member and received a full academic scholarship to Davidson, a school I’d literally never heard of until Steph Curry came along, so you know it sucks. Jeremy’s now president of a local bank and mentors “at-risk” kids. It’s really pathetic.

Bubble Screen Right was a simple concept. The quarterback would throw a bubble screen to Jeremy. I would, of course, obliterate the cornerback covering me with a devastating downfield block. Jeremy—who I’ll admit was fast—would then use his speed to outrun the safety to the pylon and score. We’d run the play successfully several times that season.

But when we lined up, I saw that a linebacker whom I’d previously knocked out of the game with a “borderline” block to the back of his knees had returned to the game. Who the hell did this guy think he was? If I knocked you out of a game with a devastating downfield block (something I did to dozens of high school football players), the best approach was to thank God you weren’t in the hospital and stay on the sidelines. But this asshole thought he could come back out on my field and act like everything was normal? It was an affront I couldn’t let go without retribution.

The linebacker lined up directly across from Jeremy, so I had a clear lane to drop a thermonuclear block on him. Blocking the linebacker was completely unecessary, though, because Jeremy could easily outrun him and just needed me to clear out the cornerback. But when the ball was snapped, pure instinct took over. I abandoned the cornerback and started running toward the linebacker. As I approached the him, I launched myself in the air and prepared to spear him in his ear hole with the crown of my helmet—a block I’d executed to perfection countless times.

Unfortunately, I collided with Jeremy instead, causing him to fumble the ball forward into the end zone. I saw the ball laying untouched in the endzone and realized it was my chance for glory. As I got off the ground and ran toward the ball, I saw that an opposing safety was going to beat me there. But as always, I had an ace up my sleeve. Though it was illegal, I always wore metal baseball spikes rather than football cleats, precisely for moments like this. I executed a classic “take out” slide on the opposing safety with my spikes up, hyperextending his left knee and knocking him to the ground before he could recover the fumble. I immediately pounced on the ball.

After the referee signaled the touchdown, I ran over to the safety—who was grabbing his knee and writhing in agony on the ground—and pretended to take a dump on his head with the football. That drew a flag.

I then raced over to the track in front of the home stands and moonwalked all the way down to our bench to a raucous standing ovation, which drew another flag. When the offense returned to the sideline, I strode over to Jeremy and said, “you’re welcome” with a determined look on my face.

Due to my penalties, we were forced to kick our extra point from the thirty-three yard line. Our kicker missed, and we lost 24-23.

My Top 5 DVDs

As most of you know, I own a prodigious DVD collection that I store in a rotating tower. I currently have over 285 titles that will likely be worth millions one day. Here are the top 5 DVDs from my collection:

5. Rambo III (1988): Rambo Trilogy Special Edition DVD Collection

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I own every movie Sly Stallone has ever made. And for all his brilliance in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot!, Spykids 3-D: Game Over, and other titles, Stallone was never better than during the 1 hour 42 minute thrill ride known as Rambo III. The movie can best be summed up by its tag line: “The first was for himself. The second was for his country. This time is for his friend.” While some consider Rocky IV the best Cold War movie of all-time, I prefer Rambo III, where Stallone goes an an undercover mission to rescue a friend who has been kidnapped by a Soviet general. It is the perfect capper to perhaps the greatest trilogy in cinematic history, and Stallone more than rises to the occasion.

Don’t scrimp with this one when purchasing the DVD. Go for the full Rambo Triology Special Edition, which comes in a case with a regal American Flag banner at the top. Also, you don’t want to watch Rambo III with no context, so it’s important to watch the first two installments to truly appreciate the final chapter’s splendor.

4. Dead Man on Campus (1998): Widescreen Version (Out of Print)

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Seeing a dark-haired Zack Morris doing bong hits on the big screen was reason enough to see this movie. So we start there.

But let’s take a step back to consider the plot: Zack and Tom Everett Scott are both in danger of failing out of college. But, they concoct a plan to avoid failing out by trying to find a roommate who is likely to commit suicide. Most of the movie consists of them cycling through one roommate after another and trying to find ways to push each one over the edge. For one roomate, they buy rope, knives, and perscription medication that he can use to commit suicide. This is a comedy, mind you. Yet the plot is something that makes Thirteen Reasons Why look like Alvin and the Chipmunks by comparison.

Dead Man on Campus ultimately makes this list because it is a true collector’s item. The movie went out of print (presumably because of the plot), and a copy today will run you $60 on Amazon. I purchased it for a cool $10 at Kmart in 2002, so I’ve seen a six-fold increase on my investment. Even Warren Buffet would be proud of that kind of return.

3. Varsity Blues (1999): Deluxe Edition

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“You’re dragging ass, and it’s fucking up my universe.”

In a world that runs short on real role models, we’ll always have coach Bud Kilmer—portrayed by Jon Voight in his finest 105 minutes of acting. The movie begins with a haunting rumination on the state of rural, football-loving America interspersed with shots of a Wal-Mart exterior and football action. It should have been the greatest movie ever made. All the ingredients were there.

And yet, the makers of Varsity Blues blew their shot at legendary status by making Jonathan Moxon the “hero” of this movie. The same Jonathan Moxon who reads overrated Kurt Vonnegut books during games, ruins his team’s season by organizing an all-night drinking party with the team’s best players, and stages a coup to take down a confirmed Texas high school football coaching legend. It’s absolutely disgusting, and it’s a topic I addressed at length in my essay, “Reconsidering Jonathan Moxon: How Varsity Blues Gave America its First Millennial,” which was included in my book. Nevertheless, Kilmer’s greatness shines so bright that the movie is still a must-watch. It’s also a huge “What If?” moment for FSU fans wondering how the 2000’s might have gone for their program had Lance Harbor not wrecked his knee.

I own three copies of Varsity Blues, and the Deluxe Edition is my favorite. It includes director’s commentary and various featurettes about making the movie. But if you are unable to afford such luxuries, the standard edition will do just fine.

2. The Patriot (2000): Extended Cut

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Trigger warning for any British citizens who might be reading this. The Patriot is the most objective, historically-accurate portrayal of the Revolutionary War that you’ll ever see. In short, The Patriot teaches the audience that the British unleashed a series of horrifying war crimes on the United States in an attempt keep our fifty states under their authoritarian yoke. It’s enough to make you never want to drink tea or watch an Austin Powers movie again.

Luckily for the United States, we had two great, patriotic Americans—Mel Gibson and the late Heath Ledger—to reluctantly take up arms against the Redcoats and single-handedly turn the tide of the war. We owe them our freedom, and the best way to pay tribute is by watching The Patriot every Fourth of July.

The Extended Cut is the only option for watching The Patriot. I used to own other versions, but I felt obligated to get rid of them. Would you rather have 2 hours and 38 minutes of patriotism, or 2 hours and 48 minutes of patriotism? If your answer isn’t the latter, you should be prosecuted for treason.

1. The Skulls (2000): Collectors Edition, Widescreen

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Where do you even begin with this absolute jewel of a movie? The final scene is a duel—a fucking duel in the year 2000—between Pacey Witter and Lance Harbor. The duel ends with Lance shooting his own father (Craig T. Nelson, no less) and attempting to shoot himself, only to have Pacey intervene and knock the gun out of his hand. But even before that climatic scene, we are treated to an endless string of cinematic mastery. Shooter McGavin, having secured a position as Yale’s provost, intentionally breaks the neck of a wounded undergraduate to silence him forever. Pacey is confined to (and breaks out of) a psych hospital evidently controlled by the Skull & Bones society. A sitting U.S. Senator hires a private detective to shoot and kill Shooter McGavin.

We don’t deserve a movie like The Skulls, but we still have it. Go to the value bin of the closest Wal-Mart and pick up a copy of this masterpiece today. You won’t regret it.

If possible, go with the Collectors Edition, which includes director’s commentary and twelve scintillating minutes of deleted scenes. Another solid option is to purchase the The Skulls trilogy, which also includes the direct-to-video sequels, The Skulls II and The Skulls III. Both are fine movies worth having on your shelf (if nothing else, it shows you can afford to purchase box sets), although not quite on the level of the original.

Coach Letterman’s Preseason Top 10

After spending countless hours breaking down film, reviewing advanced stats, and praying, here’s my preseason Top 10:

10. Georgia Southern

Close enough to benefit from the aura of the SEC grind and Kirby’s greatness.

9. Ohio State

Urban Meyer was an unapologetic liar and cheater. I respected that. Ryan Day will undoubtedly ruin this program, but it’ll take some time.

8. Tennessee

Jeremy Pruitt got hammered and tried to fight Mark Richt, something I considered doing multiple times during the late Richt era. Old Jeremy and I have had our differences over the years, but I admire the intensity.

With wisdom gained from reading  Determined Look: Life Lessons of a Youth Football Coaching , Lane Kiffin will take the FAU Owls to unprecedented heights.

With wisdom gained from reading Determined Look: Life Lessons of a Youth Football Coaching, Lane Kiffin will take the FAU Owls to unprecedented heights.


7. Florida Atlantic

Lane Kiffin follows me on Twitter. I sent him a copy of my book last fall, and now that he’s had almost a year to digest its lessons, I expect the Owls to make a run at the playoffs.

6. Auburn

Gus Malzahn is a gigantic loser who definitely financed his waterbed, but I’ve always begrudgingly admired Auburn’s commitment to violating every rule in sight. That will continue this year, and they’ll be in the top 10.

5. Army

They won 10 games last fall. If you don’t have them in your top 10, you should be arrested for treason and deported to Paris.

4. Missouri

I really don’t know anything about them this year, but they’re in the SEC.

3. LSU

Ed Orgeron is completely illiterate. He truly embraces my mantra: “An hour in the weight room is more valuable than a lifetime in the classroom.” I expect big things from him this year.

2. Alabama

Fuckers.

1. Georgia

Absent intervention from the anti-UGA deep state, Georgia will win the national title and go down as the greatest college football team in the modern era.

Now, five teams who are most definitely not in my top 10:

5. Florida

LOL Dan Mullen.

4. Oklahoma

Lincoln Riley blocked me on Twitter and is afraid to scrimmage my youth football team. Would go 7-5 in the SEC because their defense is so bad.

3. Texas

Cheated their way to a victory in the Sugar Bowl. Reality sets in this year. 6-6 at best in the SEC.

2. Michigan

The opposite of Ed Orgeron. They truly believe that academics are important. Also, Jim Harbaugh does not have unlimited laser printing privileges like I do and has probably never even seen a Suit of Armor. 5-7 in the SEC.

1. Clemson

9-3 team at best in the SEC. Benefitted last year from a pathetic schedule and the anti-SEC Deep State handing them the national title game. I deeply respect their PED usage, but cannot in good conscience put them in my Top 10.

Public Libraries: Why?

The Burning of the Library of Alexandria in 48 BC

The Burning of the Library of Alexandria in 48 BC

Once upon a time in America, libraries had a limited place in our society. During the days before the internet, the library was one of the only places you could freely access newspapers and magazines to read about sports. While works of fiction have always been laughably useless, I’ll concede that a select number of nonfiction books like Friday Night Lights and the Declaration of Independence should be required reading materials for any patriotic American.

But when Bill Gates created the internet in the mid-‘90s, the library went the way of elevator operators and the horse-drawn carriage. Hell, the internet arguably mooted the need for education altogether. I can literally do anything on the internet. If for some godforsaken reason I wanted to learn about the Ottoman Empire that America single-handedly ended in World War I, I plug the term into Wikipedia and learn everything I need to know in five minutes. Chemistry? Google it. English? Doesn’t matter now that we have spell check. Poetry? Never mattered to begin with. Physics? Not real, but still, you can go to physics.com if that’s your thing. Politics? Virtually every publication has an online comments section where you can become fully informed. Math? Your computer has a calculator. Need to read a book for class? Go to sparknotes.com or, if you need to write a paper, purchase a paper from an online bank.

The internet left an impressive trail of destruction in its wake. Movie rental stores, hard-copy encyclopedias, and waterbeds all have virtually disappeared from the American landscape over the last two decades (although I’m doing everything in my power to revive the later two). If these great institutions couldn’t compete with the internet, how could libraries? You’d think they would have been at the top of the trash heap. Libraries smell weird, they use some decimal system that doesn’t make any fucking sense, they are always infested with losers who have no hope of ever lettering in anything, and let’s face it—everyone hates librarians. Even Leslie Knope hated librarians, and she liked everyone.

And yet, libraries live on. Granted, they have largely become dens for those seeking free access to online adult content, but nonetheless, they remain. Private libraries I can begrudgingly stomach because if some rich asshole wants to finance stupidity, he or she is free to do so. That’s why we fought the Revolutionary War.

Public libraries are a different matter. Your hard-earned tax dollars are being used to ensure that the shelf of your public library is adorned with dusty copies of Lord of the Flies and A Tale of Two Cities that no one has checked out since the Reagan Administration (and understandably so—those books blow). Libraries are also occupying thousands of acres of prime real estate across the country. But that’s all about to change.   

As most of you know, I have declared my candidacy for president in 2020 as the nominee of the newly-formed Lettermen Party. If elected president, I promise to end the American public library system once and for all and return America’s focus to the backbone of our great nation—youth football. We will accomplish this through the greatest public works project since the New Deal. I am calling it the Library Destruction Program (LDP). The LDP will put every wrecking ball and piece of heavy machinery in this country to work razing public libraries to the ground and erecting glorious, state-of-the-art weight rooms or football fields in their place. After-school literacy programs will be replaced with after-school weight training programs where kids can work on their power clean technique and improve their bench and squat max. Instead of sitting around looking at a book about the Cold War, kids will get to actively re-live it by hitting a “Red Square” blocking sled with faces of Stalin, Brezhnev, Khrushchev, Ceausescu, and Putin superimposed on it. Reading circles will be replaced the greatest circle of all—Bull in the Ring.

This is what America was always meant to be. It’s what our Founding Fathers envisioned. The time has come to make that vision a reality, and I’m the only person who can do it.

Just remember: An hour in the weight room is more valuable than a lifetime in the classroom.

 

How to Spoil “Gender Reveal” Parties

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I graduated from high school in 1997. And looking back on it, I think that was the year American society reached its peak. During the twenty-one years that have passed since then, there have been a number of corrosive developments in our society—seat belts, runner-up trophies, concussion protocol, soy, targeting penalties, FDA regulations for raw meat, veganism, and school crossing guards are just a handful of examples. I’ll address all of these problems in due time.

Today, however, I want to address “gender reveal” parties. For those of you lucky enough to have avoided these horrific events, a gender reveal party is where the parents-to-be “reveal” whether their child is a boy or a girl. That’s literally it. They gather a bunch of friends and family together, feed them bad food and bad alcohol (good luck finding a handle of Fireball or steak nachos at a gender reveal party), and come up with some dumbass way to “reveal” the gender, such as cutting a cake that has blue or pink layering or releasing blue or pink balloons. Even worse, gender reveal parties are frequently scheduled on Saturdays and conflict with sporting events. And I can guarantee you there will be some do-gooding disphit present who will tell you to “please pay attention” when you watch football games or a Game of Thrones episode on your phone with the volume turned up.

Back in ’97, the mere notion of a gender reveal party would have been met with a swift punch to the stomach. Sadly, we are today expected to applaud the parents and bring presents. So what should we do to solve this problem?

I believe Abraham Lincoln once said, “Others look at things as they are and say, why? I look at things as they should be and say, why not?” Well, I’m happy to tell you that I took this motto to heart and figured out a way to end gender reveal parties for good.

It all started on Monday, when one of my co-workers named Gregg invited me to a gender reveal party that he and his wife are hosting this Saturday at the same time as the Georgia-Kentucky game. I laughed in Gregg’s face, declined the invitation, and called him a loser. But I’m also a philanthropist, and my mind naturally started to wander to the many poor souls who would still be subjected to this event. What could I do to help them and make the word a better place? There was only one answer—figure out a way to ruin the “reveal” in advance of the party.

It really wasn’t that hard to do. I casually asked Gregg which doctor they were using. When I got that information, I called the doctor’s office, pretended to be Gregg (that part was hard because he talks like a loser and lettered in debate in high school), and said I was calling just to “re-confirm” the gender in advance of a party I was hosting. The doctor’s assistant pulled some papers and confirmed it was a girl.

Step two involved me fake apologizing to Gregg, telling him I was coming after all, and asking for the invite list so I could “coordinate presents” with other invitees. He eagerly shared it with me. Little did he know that I was going to use the invite list to send around a group email with the subject “IT’S A GIRL!” The body of the email said simply: “No need to attend Heidi and Gregg’s stupid gender reveal party now. Enjoy your football-filled Saturday. Go Dawgs! – Coach Letterman.”

Things got a little ugly at work this morning. Turns out Heidi didn’t take things so well and showed up in a blind rage, accused me of “ruining everything,” and attempted to attack me while security held her back and escorted her from the premises.

I received a standing ovation from my colleagues.