NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

October 16, 2012

Football in the '40s vs. today

(Continued)

Football during my days was quite different than it is today. There are so many differences that I’ll have to write about it in parts.

In the 1940s we ran the ball most of the time. We only passed to keep the defense honest. Otherwise they would bunch up on us. It was more rock’em, sock’em football. When the ball was centered, you could hear the pads colliding up into the stands. We went after each other head to head. We couldn’t use our hands while blocking. Our hands couldn’t be more than 6 inches from our chest; otherwise, you’d get penalized 15 yards for illegal use of the hands. So when we blocked we would have to drive our face right along the side of the opponent by his hips. With our neck and the forearm we would try to control the other player. This took a lot of practice to be able to do that effectively, realizing we didn’t have

face masks nor did we use mouth guards. Our faces got scraped up most of the time. I had a scar on my nose each season that wouldn’t heal. Thank goodness I didn’t lose any teeth.

In today’s game the blocking is all done with the hands, making it much easier to block. It is less skillful. Unfortunately, this causes “holding,” which can go on for most of the play. It’s only called when the runner is close to the blocking. I really prefer playing in my day. It was so satisfying being successful making a good block.

Because you blocked and played low, you became a better tackler. The tackling in our day was much better; we didn’t tackle high at all. If you blocked or tackled high, generally you wouldn’t be too successful.

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