The Tao is a Chinese concept or philosophy known as the way. Laozi (or Lao Tsu) says in the foundational text of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching, the Tao is the underlying natural order of the universe which, as opposed to material manifestations, cannot be named.
Thus, football. Therein lies its essence– an underlying natural order of sport which cannot be named.
It’s that time of year again, ladies and germs… Football Season in the great old US of A! College ball has already started. The pros play for reals next weekend.
Here’s the deal. I fell in love with football as a child sitting on my daddy’s knee. It wasn’t just Joe Namath’s tousled locks and bad boy good looks that sucked me in…
It was the zen of a perfect throw and catch, the leap of faith that allows a runner to run a pattern, blind to his quarterback, yet turn and expect the ball. The leap of faith that allows a quarterback to release a ball from his fingertips, a ball which sails in a beautiful spiral to the exact spot where a runner will be when the ball at last spends its kinetic energy and returns to earth in an arc linking the two men like a perfect umbilical cord.
Oh joy! Rapture!
When the stars are in alignment, no moment in time has greater mystical significance than that particular throw and that particular catch. But the experience is larger than that. It is, if you will, a moment out of time.
And therein lies the appeal of football, it is filled with such moments which cannot be named. Takes my breath away.
Over the years I’ve had my up close and personal moments– a former boyfriend, T. Z., a tight end with the nicest, ahem, tight end. I will always remember his 80 yard touch down run– our quarterback, M.K., threw a twenty yard pass from our own goal line. T.Z. ran down the left sideline, glanced over his right shoulder just as the ball arrived. He pulled it into his chest, tucked it under his left arm and ran for an 80 yard touch down. The Tao.
But here are a few of the greats and my favorites:
Now, for all you die-hard sports fans, a guest commentary on the nature of today’s quarterbacks by none other than ‘Oscar’, my own in-house sports expert:
We seem to be at an inflexion point in football. The classic drop back QB is no longer the only way to go. Last season 4 young QBs burst on the NFL scene and led their teams to the playoffs. They seem to be the heirs apparent to Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
The new QBs are Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin (RG3) and Colin Kaepernick. There are other talented young QBs (Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford) but these are the guys who have shown the ability to win consistently.
The QB in college football is changing too. Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy as a 6’1″ running freshman QB and after week 1 of the college season several freshman have already broken records including Cal’s Jared Goff who at 18 years old and 4 months removed from his high school prom threw for 455 yards in his college debut (more than Aaron Rodgers (former Cal QB) ever did and the second most in Cal history.
It is hard to project QB excellence as players advance from one level to the next. Case in point, the freshman QB for Texas Tech, Baker Mayfield. He was a walk on (meaning nobody recruited him and he didn’t have a scholarship). So how did his first game go? Not bad, 413 yards, 4 TDs passing and another rushing and no interceptions in a win.
So much for 5-star recruits. Luck and Griffin were the #1 and #2 picks in their draft but neither Kaepernick nor Wilson were first round choices. Manziel was not one of the top 20 QB prospects coming out of high school.
Forecasting QB success is not easy, but it’s always interesting.