Flag Football at the Bears Training Field, or How I Learned to Stop Caring and Start Letting Large Men Running Towards Me at Full Speed

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Last week, while at the Bulls game that we saw for free cause we won tickets at a wine tasting party (long story), we got an email from Kristen inviting us to join her and Shaun to an event where you play flag football with some members of the Chicago Bears at their training field. Fuzzy and I are fans of sport and sport games, and were already at a sport event, and we love doing once-in-a-lifetime things, so of course we instantly said yes!

Shaun and Kristen play flag football on a league every Saturday, so they were ready for the challenge. Fuzzy and I like to watch football on tv. On the way over, I asked some questions such as "how do you play?" and if it would be possible to avoid what I call the "Whirleyball Effect" wherein you have to have a certain number of players on the court and that's how many people are playing, when you really hate it and want out cause it hurts but there is no one to switch out with you, so you have to just suffer through it and watch the clock til the game is over. They assured me that 1) it would be easy 2) I could stop whenever I wanted and 3) there is no touching in flag football, so it will be ok. Score!

We headed over Monday late afternoon and arrived at the Walter Payton training facility at Halas Field at about 5:30.  There were some guys on the field kicking and throwing and goofing off. We signed waivers that we would be responsible for any "wrongful death" that might occur.

The event was sponsored by Mastercard, as one of those "Priceless" promotions. Playing flag football with some members of the Chicago Bears? Priceless. However the tickets cost money. But whatever, let's have fun and throw the ball!

Erica throws
I play the football.

Kristen shows that dummy who's boss
Kristen gets aggressively huggy.

Just warming up with some high kicks
"Can't can-can if your shoes Toulouse." (this is a weird reference that prob only me, Carrie and mom will get.)
(photos by Fuzzy)

Fuzzy and Shaun run like footballs
The "pride and joy of Illinois."

Fuzzy makes some footballs running
My fantasy football league.

Then someone blew a whistle, and we were divided into teams. Two Bears players were our coaches, and we put on our jerseys so we'd know what team was what. I kept hilariously saying that it was time to "Bear Down." We did some introductions, and talked about some rules, which included "no touching."

Our coaches: Jonathan Scott and Brandon Hardin
Our coaches Jonathan Scott and Brandon Hardin. Note Bobby the Medic next to Jonathan. He plays an important part of this story later.

You know how you think that football players are giant, huge, and muscley? Well, that is a true fact, my friend. Not like this weiner:

Erica bears down
"Hey guys, let's Bear Down!"

Our coach Brandon talked us through some plays. He gave us different positions to play. He was all "football football football" and I was all "nod head and smile" and then when he asked if everyone knew their position, I asked him how to play. Hooray! I was a lineman! I didn't have to run a lot, and I just had to stand in the middle and block the other team! Yay! Let's all have fun and run around a bit and have a Priceless experience together! Friendly Fun!

Unfortunately, almost everyone else there that wasn't Fuzzy or I was there to PLAY. To relive their football glory days. To show em. There were 22 of us, so 11 and 11. All play!!  There were 4 girls playing (3 on our team) and 18 men. No worries! It's flag football! What fun! Our team scored! Our team is good! Fuzzy grabbed a flag! Oh no, that girl on our team was knocked down! Good thing I won't have to worry about that! I'm a lineman! Tra la la. Defense! Offense! Yippee football!

Halftime! Gatorade Break! Let me pose for the photographer by looking extremely parched. Good hustle, white team!

The second half started. Time for more running!  And then I was knocked down by this guy who tried to run through me. I landed hard on my ass. Shaun and I yelled at him. He was remorseless and was not reprimanded by the coaches or the referee. Oh well, let me go to this side of the field so that I can avoid that guy. Yeah, it hurts, but I am tough, I can just walk it off. Yeah! Football! Whee!!

And then suddenly, I found myself getting knocked the the ground by TWO men, who both sort of landed on me/ ran over me. I landed on my tailbone. I hit my ass. I hit my face on the ground. One guy apologized for being pushed into me. People helped me up. I burst into tears. I was mad. I was embarrassed. I felt like an idiot. I just wanted to have fun, not get knocked to the ground repeatedly. Yeah, that's football, but we weren't wearing in protective gear, nor were we PLAYING REAL FOOTBALL.  Bobby the Medic came to my aid and walked me off the field. He asked me a series of questions, very calmly, about where my pain was, if I could see, etc etc. He asked if I was crying cause I was hurting or because of the stress of what happened. NO BOBBY, I AM CRYING CAUSE IT HURTS. (also yes, cause I feel stupid). He gave me an ice pack to sit on, and I washed my face. I then watched my team pulverize the other team. Take that, dummies. (Turns out Shaun and Kristen are really good players.)

Please note that this would have been a great time for me to take photos of everyone else playing football, but my cheek was in so much pain, I didn't want to hold a camera up against it.

I tried to avoid eye-contact with everyone when the game was over. I tried to avoid crying again. I hated getting the attention, and I hated that I got injured playing a friendly game of run-arounds-and-throw-the-balls. I didn't want to be a poor sport, but I couldn't help it--I was in pain.  But I didn't want to ruin anyone else's Priceless experience. Some guys came over to check on me, including the coach, the ref, and members of the other team. That one guy didn't. Jerk.

The next part of the event involved dinner and Monday Night Football, but first there was an autograph and photo session with the members of the Bears. Sensing an opportunity to add this to my collection of "odd photos of me with professional football players," I decided I wanted to commemorate the evening's events by posing with my icebag and ailment. I did.  The Bears didn't know what to do with me. The photographer asked me to take a second photo normally, in case I didn't like the first one. I don't remember saying it, but Fuzzy said my response was "Oh, I am going to like it. That's my style."

Today I am HELLA sore. My tailbone! It hurts to sit. I bet I am going to have a gnarly bruise on my right ass-cheek. But it was a blast and I am so happy we went. It was all worth it, for this:

Me and the Chicago Bears

Priceless.

2 Comments

Oh, Babe, I don't know what to say. I am glad you are all right.

Uh, you are right on.

This may be one of my favorite blog posts of all time.

Spectacular. Even without the photograph.

But the photo(s) totally make it.

I might read it again myself.

Erica Reid

Erica Reid headshot by Elizabeth McQuern

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