There is nothing worse than football metaphors. Except maybe bottom of the ninth baseball metaphors.
“Doing an end around” or “throwing a hail mary” to “get across the goal line” are all tired football phrases that I have heard unimaginative analysts haul out to describe the presidential election.
I am not sure what kind of sports metaphor can be used to describe an event where the players left the field days ago and the fans are still in the stadium waiting for the final score to flash on the scoreboard. Maybe, it's airing a replay of an official review.
I am also not sure what kind of sports metaphor can be used to describe watching officials count ballots. I mean, it’s not like it is first and ten on the mail-in side of the field. It’s more like first and thousands. And the clock is not running down, it is running up. The front runner is at the wire and the runner up is demanding a photo finish.
By the way, neck and neck horse racing metaphors are also lame for this particular blow by blow, election.
Boxing metaphors should be KOed too.
Maybe we should use musical metaphors. We can talk about harmony or hitting the right note or being in tune or taking an encore after the closing number. Or maybe being tone deaf. In this high pitch environment, it’s a little less strident.
In the middle of Atlanta, where votes are being recounted as you read this, sits the College Football Hall of Fame. The College Football Hall of Fame immortalizes the gridiron legacies of teams and players since the first college football game at Rutgers University in 1869.
Amid the large galleries, displays of grass stained helmets, and pin light displays of pigskin memorabilia, hangs a tarnished trombone. It is without a doubt the most celebrated musical instrument in all of football, notwithstanding Janet Jackson’s bare breasted anthem to equipment failure during the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show.
On a crisp November day in 1982, during Ronald Regan’s first term as president, the Stanford University marching band stood ready to rush the field in celebration of the Stanford Cardinal’s dramatic 20 to 19 victory over the arch rival California Bears.
Stanford had just kicked a field goal to go ahead of California and secure victory in the polarized and emotionally charged, “Big Game”, one of many Big Games being played out in college precincts all across America. With only four seconds left on the game clock, Stanford squibb kicked the ball to Cal’s front line to finish the game. The ball bounced into the hands of strong safety Kevin Moen, who made it up the field only five yards before being swarmed by single-minded Stanford players.
Pandemonium broke loose as the marching band stormed the field in celebration of Stanford’s dramatic, come-from-behind victory.
At the same time, the Cal receiver, facing a game-ending, face down trip to the gridiron, flipped the ball in desperation where it was miraculously caught by another Cal player who, facing a similar fate, lateraled the ball once again to yet another Cal player who was quickly grabbed and pulled to his knees by an onslaught of rushing Stanford Cardinals to finally end the game.
But not before he was able to toss the ball back again to the second Cal player who scampered forward flicking the ball back to a third Cal player who raced up the field and tossed it sideways in motion back to Kevin Moen, the original Cal receiver.
With daylight in front of him, Moen made it to about the twenty yard line before he encountered the saxophone section of the Stanford Marching Band who were storming the field in victory. The band was not quite so intent on making the tackle and Moen darted among the musicians into the endzone where he leaped joyously into the air into an oncoming trombone.
The horn was not wearing pads.
I don’t know what sound a trombone makes when it is spiked in the endzone, but to California fans it was beautiful music. Because deliberating officials awarded Cal the touchdown and the final 25 to 19 victory.
They call it “The Play” and it is forever memorialized by that trombone in the College Football Hall of Fame. The legality of “The Play” has been in dispute ever since and the outcome never fully acknowledged by Cardinal loyalists. An edition of The Daily Californian deviously printed by wily Stanford students after the game falsely claimed that the NCAA had awarded the Big Game to Stanford.
So, if we wake up in a Groundhog Day replay at the Electoral College goal line in double overtime and a delay of game is called for illegal motion in the middle of a full court press, just remember we can’t really pick up our marbles and go home until the fat lady sings.
Or at least until the trombone player is clocked.