Trash talk, and when it backfires on one’s backside
Pregame: It was the season opener, im Harbaugh became my new hero and McKinleyville’s players took the Saturday. It had nothing to do with his abilfield breathing fire. “Let’s kick ass!” they ity as a coach, or as a master motivator, or screamed. “Let’s kick ass!” they screamed even with the lopsided outcome of the Big again. Game (from what I hear, it was a 48-14 When a Ferndale player ran by, it was victory for Harbaugh-coached Stanford. “We’re going to kick you ass!” After a FernI’m that rarest of Bay Area sports fans; dale player ran off, it was “Yeah! You’re I don’t care who wins the Big Game, gonna get your ass kicked! Let’s kick ass!” because I have no college attachment to Remember, this is Ferndale. There’s not either team. Call me if Cal ever drops a whole lot there, so voices tend to carry Stanford in favor of Humboldt State.) pretty well. And the voices did – all over No, Harbaugh became my hero for the Ferndale sidelines and grandstands. ripping into that lowest level of football Opening kickoff: As the McKinleyville creature, the type that can’t beat his opplayers promised, again, of the upcomponent with skill, so he tries to do it with ing ass-kicking, Ferndale kicked off, and his mouth. McKinleyville ran the ball back to about Trash-talkers. the 40. “Yeah! Way to kick ass!” a player Or, as we call them in Wally’s World, yelled. “We are kicking ass!” a teammate “The reason we quit following the NBA yelled back. in 1988.” First drive: On its first play, McKin“I don’t like the kind of football where leyville’s quarterback was sacked. On the you talk and intimidate,” Harbaugh said second play, he threw incomplete just after the game. “It’s not real. … Shut up before being buried by four Ferndale lineand play football.” men. On third down, he was sacked again. Shut up and play football. Beautiful. If So, suddenly, the “kick ass!” season was off I’m ever appointed Football Czar, those to a fourth-and-29 start. words will be taped onto the front of First punt, and first self-ass-kick: every player’s helmet. The hike went to McKinleyville’s punter, This isn’t to say the trash-talking wasn’t who caught the snap and took two steps going both ways as a pre-game skirmish forward. McKinleyville’s blocking back, disrupted the Big Coin Flip. But, I loved meanwhile, took about two three steps Harbaugh for coming out and sayback. The punter dropped the ball and ing something that every peewee, high blasted a punt that, based on the sound, school, college and, yes, NFL player needs was going to fly a good 50-plus yards in to hear. the air. When you think of trash-talkers, Instead, it flew about 2 feet – directly, who comes to mind? Let’s see … Terrell dead-solid-perfect into the backside of the Owens, Chad Ochocinco, Randy Moss … McKinleyville blocking back. MikeW@ yeah, you know. Losers. Guys who are the The ball ricocheted about 20 feet straight SportStarsMag.com first to pop off in good times, and then up. The blocking back reached back, run for cover when it’s time to answer for grabbed one cheek with each hand, arched (925) 566-8500 their own screwups. his head straight up and began hopping Ext. 109 Let your play do the talking, not your around in circles, screaming the sort of mouth. And, in case I haven’t made blood-curdling primal yell that signifies my point, it’s time for my all-time favorite high school the sort of pain probably not felt since “The Texas Chainfootball story, and it’s all about some trash-talking that, saw Massacre.” literally, came back to nail the trash talkers in the butt. He was still screaming a good 10 seconds later as he Yes — I mean literally. hopped toward the safety of the sideline, clutching both The year was 1987. The schools involved were McKinbuns, while the poor McKinleyville punter fought for leyville and Ferndale of the Humboldt-Del Norte League. the ball beneath a pile of hysterically laughing Ferndale To set the scene, Ferndale had (and has) a long history linemen. of strong, small-school teams, both in terms of athletics Yes, laughing. Players and fans alike were laughing to and sportsmanship. McKinleyville has long since turned the point of genuine tears. It was like the short-pass scene the corner as well, but in those days, it was known, priin “The Longest Yard,” only these guys weren’t acting. marily, as the school that once lost 30 or more consecuThe day’s final mention of an ass kick: After about 30 tive games on three separate occasions. seconds, the laughter subsided. And then came a loud, Things got so bad, McKinleyville was put into the booming voice, bellowing out of the Ferndale bleachers, smaller-schools division, where it would play schools and delivered with perfect aplomb: with about one-fourth of its enrollment. And this had the “Hey, McKinleyville – is that what you guys meant players convinced they were, in their own words, “Going when you said you were going to KICK ASS this year?’ to kick some ass!” Moral of the story: Don’t talk trash. It could come back And boy, did they ever. It went down like this: to nail you in the you-know-what.
November 25, 2010
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An even dozen and the football playoffs are here!