Wednesday, September 23, 2009
All-Time Favorite/Most Hated Thing: Fullback
Fullback might be the hardest position to describe to people outside of the foosball sphere of knowledge, because when you put any sort of description to it, people just go "oh, you mean a running back," and you're all "no, no, no - See, it's a blah blah blah blah," and they just go "yeah, like a running back," and you finally have to agree, because life is too short, and goddammit, you're hungry and the restaurant is about to close. But anyway, a fullback is basically a running back, except to a much lesser extent. Effectively , a fullback is football's equivalent of a bass player; the loser of the band.
...Which makes it all the more difficult to think up material for this thing, but my undiagnosed internet OCD leaves me unable to just skip ahead to the stupid wide receivers. So let's just plunge the fuck forward.
ALL-TIME FAVORITE - RAYMONT HARRIS (1994-1997)
This was kind of a difficult choice for me, as part of me - possibly the repressed racist part of me - reeeally wanted to choose Brad Muster here, but I had to go with this guy if for no other reason than his sheer audacity. You see, the fullback is a chump-ass loser position, where your only hope of recognition is to either catch a bunch of passes that all go for like half a yard reach or to just be a white dude, in which case you'll be showered with all that bullshit "gritty, hard-worker" praise that goes to anyone with a crew-cut, regardless of how much of a slacker they might be. But Raymont Harris wanted more out of life than to be a fullback, and indeed, he got more. You see, for Raymont, having a nickname alone was not enough. A normal fullback would be as tickled as a pig in shit to be called "The Quiet Storm," as Harris was known by some, but in the end, a pig in shit with a nickname is still a pig in shit. So for him to reach his true potential, he knew it could not come to him as a fullback; nay, for Raymont Harris was no mere fullback: Raymont Harris was the god damned ULTRABACK. He could run, he could catch, he could block, and simply being the best at his position was not enough, so he had to come up with his own. Your mere rules of football cannot contain a tempest such as that of The Ultraback, Quiet Storm Raymont Harris. The Ultraback laughs at this assessment. For the Ultraback does not run with the football; the football runs with the Ultraback. The Ultraback does not block for the dude with the football; the dude with the football merely follows in the Ultraback's footsteps, for the Ultraback is a Leader of Men. The Ultraback does not dance to the music - The music dances to the Ultraback. I could go on like this for days.
MOST HATED - CRAIG HEYWARD (1993)
I know, I know. Heyward had a pretty nice career, was a solid dude and awesome family man by all accounts, and you're not supposed to speak ill of the dead and all. But you know, I've never been into the whole thing where anyone who dies before a time when dudes are expected to die is immediately cleansed of all his sins. Like when Michael Jackson croaked, sure, "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" was a good song and all, but it doesn't erased all those times he'd invite the youngsters over for wine, pills, and the Wang of Pop. So all the good years with the Falcons and Saints and all the general Solid Dudeness of Craig Heyward cannot erase the 1993 football season.
You see, this was the beginning in Chicago of the Years Without Light, when Mike Ditka had been fired, paving the way for Dave Wannstedt to come in and dismantle what little remained of the mid-to-late 80s glory years. Wannstedt wanted everyone to know that this was his team, dammit, and not Ditka's, so one by one, Wannstedt removed parts of the team Ditka had put together and installed his own players. His own lousy players. So when Brad Muster's contract came up, he was shown the door, and Heyward was signed. And there was at least some rejoicing, because while Muster had been a fairly kick-ass player, "Ironhead" Heyward was the stuff of legend: He was a 300-pound fullback, a mammoth blocker who was impossible to tackle, and whose girth belied speed and quickness which dudes that size simply shouldn't have had. But the thing was, none of those things really applied to the brutal and horrifying year he spent in navy blue. While the Bears' reasons for dumping off Muster were more related to the new coach's arrogance, the New Orleans Saints had fairly good reasons to get rid of ol' Ironhead. You see, it was the whole girth thing. By the time he showed up in Chicago, Heyward had swole up to around 340, was no longer fast nor quick, and just didn't seem to be in any mood to block folks. So after one brutal season of non-football, Heyward was cut the next preseason, paving the way for the dawn of The Ultraback himself.
The postscript: Once away from the horrifying grip of a Wannstedt-coached team, and the thrashing death-spiral he would take the Bears down in the 1990s, Heyward signed with the Atlanta Falcons, lost about 60 pounds, and had his two best years as a pro, going so far as to top the 1,000-yard mark and be selected to play in the Pro Bowl in 1995. He even ended up with a damn soap commercial, introducing me to the sort of little lathery bath pouf thing that I still use to this day:
So while Heyward managed to crawl out of the muck and mire and remake his career, as a Bear, he just served as a symbol of the bullshit I had to endure until Dick Jauron eventually became the head coach in '99, which led, oddly enough, to a whole new set of stupid bullshit. Like I've said, the life of a Bears fan is a life of pain, but even more so a life of hating the stupid coach.
NEXT TIME: Wide receivers, and all their annoying whiteness.