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Pigskin Duke and the concrete goal line

Growing up in a Chicago housing project made us focus on what we had and made it as good as the things we did not have. Our favorite thing to do: sports. It did not matter. Baseball, basketball and especially football. Our field was the grassy areas between the apartment buildings. We were lucky because the field was plenty long enough. Sure, we played some tag but the best games were tackle football. And no referees. Helmet maybe, football pants, never had them, jersey, for a few. The goaline was simple: use the concrete sidewalk that crossed the field at both ends. You've never done anything in life until you geared up for a goaline stand on some cold concrete. On one occasion a play ended with a broken leg. Yet through it all, we dreamed. We dreamed of playing in a real game with cheering crowds and full gear. I don't know who, but someone came up with the idea of replacing our beat up football with the real deal. Yes, an NFL football. An NFL Duke. We just had to pay for it. Everyone agreed and I'm not sure how long it took but we pooled and collected the money for months until we had enough to go down to the sporting goods store and bought ourselves a pro football. What games we had with that ball. I remember them well. Those memories are what helps propel my writing. Moments in life reaching out for the real deal. And then writing about it. Now that's what it's all about.

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