You've heard the old expression, "Man, I'd give my right arm to be....", whatever the fuck it is you desperately want to be, if you deem it right arm-worthy.
Yeah, like you've ever really done anything like that! I once gave up a beer, for the cause of being one-beer-short of totally shit-faced in front of my parents and neighbors at a Christmas party--but that's about as far as my sacrifices have gone.
With that in mind, let me introduce you to Norm Parker's toes:
"Norm, he's a great guy. Most of us are strongly attached to him--others, less so now. But God we love this guy. He's been on this earth for over 65 years, and there's not been a single day that he's quit on something. Got diabetes? Norm gives it 24/7 of Hell. Lost the piggie Went to Market?
Well, FUCK the market. How much is Penn State going to Wildcat this Saturday? Will they go five-wide on third and long? Toes come and go. Losses stay on the books. Boys must be turned into men. There's work to do. And this Saturday, we're going up to Sparty--I need not mention, perhaps, that Norm has been there before. As a coach. Think he's going to give any quarter to those bastards? Think again. He's got toes AND linebackers to spare.
But Sparty isn't where Norm made his name. There was a time in the late 90's--I think there were almost ten of us back then (excepting Wee Wee Wee All The Way Home, maybe--he was the first to go)--that he coached up the D for Vandy. You remember Vandy--or maybe you don't, their team dominates the SEC the way Chuck Wepner's face dominated Muhammed Ali's fist
Anyway, Vandy was up against Florida, and I mean Danny Wuerfel's point-a-minute-passing Steve Spurrier's shit-eating-grin NC-champ-type Florida. Norm's D kept Vandy in the game, long after others would've wilted. The world was pissing "quit" and shitting "give it the fuck up already," but Norm's boys kept them in a game they had no business being in.
They lost, 28-21, but gained the respect of millions of toes nationwide, including many prominent big toes I could name (hate to namedrop, but maybe you've heard of Sergeant Hulka!). Shortly after, Norm came to the Hawks.
I can't tell you how much he means to this team. We're kind of in the boonies, where the pulse is slow and lazy, but we've all heard the laughter through the orthotics at those I-Club lunches. Norm, in case you didn't know, is hilarious, a natural born storyteller, a great speaker. For instance, when asked about losing some of us (Had None and Had Roast Beef), he said this:
It's been easier because of standing up. Last year, I couldn't stand up. Last year was hard there at the beginning. This is a lot better.
Or, when asked if his health problems (and occasional critics who wish he'd blitz more) would hasten his retirement:
It's fun. If I (ever) think, 'Oh God, I've got to go to work today,' I'd hang it up. Being involved with young kids, I think it definitely (does) something for you. I'd rather do that than go play bingo or something.
You know, on Parents Day, that's when we, the remaining piggies, really feel bad for some of the kids. So many of them, when introduced, are "So and So and his Mother .....".
No Dad. Don't know whether Dad left, or if there ever was one. Can't imagine growing up without all ten of us together, huddled in those Penny Loafers, fighting for space. I imagine not having a Dad is the same. A part of you is missing.
But when you look at the guys on defense who're standing in that line with only their mothers, maybe then it hits you: maybe they ain't got a Dad--but, then again, maybe they kinda' DO.
Being involved with young kids, I think it definitely (does) something for you.
See, those guys on D, they've got NORM. They're the family--that's why the D sticks together, works together so well. Don't matter if you're black or white or a little D-back or a big D-lineman or from Iowa or New Jersey--you're in Norm's family, and Norm's family doesn't give up, doesn't back down. I don't care who you've got at home, on this field you've got an Old Man and his last name is Parker.
Speaking of Norm's family, Norm knows pain, too, aside from us toes. He lost a son, Down syndrome problem, I think (heard that from a finger scratching an itch down south a while back). I can't imagine that. Losing a toe is tough, but the pain goes away--and hell, it's pretty numb down here anyways most of the time. But a son, a son you've watched over for so long--that's mighty tough. A lesser man might have packed it in, pissed at God and the World.
Not Norm. He's giving life and fate his own version of "Six Seconds of Hell." He'll quit when he's damn well ready, and from the cheers we hear on Saturdays--they're louder than you might think, even with our nerves shot from the sugar--we know he ain't done yet. We KNOW he ain't done yet!
Sometimes we wonder if maybe there'd be more of us if he'd sit down for a while, stop coaching, concentrate on his health. Coaching is beyond a full-time job: it's a life few can lead, and fewer lead with success. Then we hear those kids laughing, the hits in practice, the smacking of pads, the roar of the crowd. And we know. Yes, we KNOW
Norm lives for Iowa football and those kids. He lives to watch his boys succeed, not just as players, but as men. We're selfish, we toes are--we think a shoe is the galaxy and a man the universe. But Norm, he knows better: you're only as important and good as the effect you have on those outside of you and your universe.
In our opinion, it's an honor to be lost for such a man. Coach until we're all gone, Norm; there's more important things than toes, and there's seven of us left, anyway. Besides, we got rid of those wussy-ass piggie names! From left to right, let me intoroduce you to Misters Angerer, Edds, Sash, Clayborn, Binns, Spievay, and Hunter. We're Norm's new toes, and we're taking names: Six seconds of metatarsal hell motherfuckers! The next surgeon to try and take one of us is getting a toe enema with 'athlete's rectum' for good measure.
Besides, every day the seven of us wake up and thank the good Lord that at least we're not Bret Bielema's Hawkeye tattoo. Man, that would be fucked up!