The following is the second installment in my “Purloined Pig-Skin” mini-series (see below for part I):
Northwestern came back in the third quarter and tied up the score. Auburn scored again after which the running back spiked the ball over the goal post. He threw it so hard it went up in the stands. (Note: excessive celebration and penalties imposed here) While the Auburn players were trying to recover the ball, the kicker lined up to kick the extra point. They failed, however to get the net back up in time to catch the ball. Instead it sailed into the end zone and into my son’s seat. Fans all around scrambled to get the ball, but David managed to scoop it up and tuck it beneath our pile of ponchos. Now, I promise, my son was not raised to steal, nor was I. Nor was my former husband, who was a circuit court judge. We assumed the same rules for baseball games applied to football. At a baseball game you get to keep the errant ball if it comes your way . Who knew this sports protocol did not apply to football? Certainly not me, the non-football fan.
It was the weirdest feeling having an entire stadium looking in your direction anticipating the return of the game ball. Our band of brothers decided to do nothing, which seemed to work because the game resumed with a new ball. After about ten minutes I said to my son, Why don’t I put the ball in my backpack? No one will think a 56 year old woman is interested in keeping a football. So I did and proceeded to watch an exciting quarter of football, albeit with a pounding heart.
Ten minutes later we heard a booming voice behind us say, “Somebody’s going to jail tonight if that football isn’t returned”. We turned around and there was a police officer threading his way through the end zone. He’s pointing an accusing finger at my son. David’s outstretched hands were empty, as was the rain gear he held up for inspection. After questioning adjacent fans, he turned a suspicious eye on me. I’m told I resembled a flasher as I repeatedly opened and closed my raincoat as if to say, “I have nothing to hide”. The officer pointed to my backpack saying, “I assume there’s just clothes in that bag of yours.” I don’t think I really responded, I can’t remember. I was so scared. I actually would have been happy to return the stupid ball at that point. The fun little lark was losing its appeal. I hate getting in trouble. But I would have looked like such an idiot pulling the football out of my backpack. Meanwhile, the cop persisted in his menacing intimidation. Interestingly, none of the fans around us gave us up. I decided I would wait a little while and then, exercising some discretion, leave my seat and return the ball.
The tale of our football follies will be continued in my next post…