Marriage is Like Football: The D-Line
As I mentioned before, I was primarily a Center in high school. That meant I spent a lot of time getting to know Defensive Linemen “up close and personal,” as they say. It was rarely—if ever—a
pleasant experience. D-Linemen tend to be big, strong, quick, agile, and possessed of a mean streak . . . I may be prejudiced here.
But D-Linemen are crucial to the success of a team—they are literally the first line of defense against anything “offensive” that may be coming their way. Partners are often called upon to play the role of the D-Line. They must learn to quickly discern from whence the threat is coming and react quickly and with determination. And they are often called upon to do this with very little information.
For those of you who don’t know football very well, D-Line (like Offensive Linemen mentioned above) start out with their hands on the ground, in a crouch, with their heads down. Unlike Linebackers or Defensive Backs who start out each play standing erect and, thus, having a wider view, all most D-Linemen can see in the face of the person in front of them. They must take their cues from his movement, subtle shifts in body posture or weight distribution (is he going to charge at (meaning a running play) or is he going to move backward to protect his Quarterback (indicting a passing play)? Or, will he the O-Lineman try to trick me (the D-Lineman) by “pulling”—backing away entirely from the line of scrimmage to go block somewhere else, leaving an apparent hole in the line in front of me? If this happens, as a D-Lineman, I need to expect two things: first, the primary action will be somewhere else but, second, I will likely get hit from the blind side by another O-Lineman whose job it is to come and knock me out of the play while the guy with whom I thought I was going to contend goes off the do mischief elsewhere.
D-Lineman must be alert to such tricks (“traps” we call them) and aware that threats can come from nay angles. They must be quick to respond and change tactics, depending on how the play develops in front of them . . . and, as was noted, they may have little information on which to act, but act they must.
They must respond quickly and decisively to opportunities. If the threat comes right to them, they must stand their ground. If the threat develops away from them, they must pursue it and not quit until the threat is snuffed out. D-Line is not glamourous. It was not at all unusual for O- and D-Linemen to be covered with mud, grass stains, and even blood before the game was even half over. But we linemen took some comfort when those we protected had clean uniforms at the end of the day. It meant we had done our jobs, absorbed the blows, paid the price, so that others could advance the ball and accomplish our mutual goals.
It’s not unusual for both O- and D-Linemen to go many games, indeed whole careers, and never actually touch the ball. Theirs’s is the often thankless but crucial job of protection, opening or closing holes, standing ground or gaining ground, hard yard by hard yard.
Our patron saint is Joseph, husband of Mary. In the Bible, he never says a word, yet he lovingly does the next right thing, with quiet, steadfast devotion to his wife and child.
Here’s to D-and O-Linemen everywhere.