A History Lesson for Non-Football Fans: Part 1, Charlie Whitehurst

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe with some coaxing football can surpass Ferret Legging as the world's most popular sport. Here is the first part of a guide to help those who remain uninitiated get excited about the offseason.

This time of the year is the most exciting for football fans as hope springs eternal their team will add those pieces to the puzzle that either keep them in contention or add them to the mix as Super Bowl hopefuls. But what about non-football fans?

Judging by the fact more people watched the Super Bowl this year than actually exist there aren’t many non-fans. However, for those pockets of resistance, are they excited about the possibilities the off-season bring? Perhaps if they understood what this time of year was all about they might be. So, in the spirit of helpfulness I will attempt to explain this most joyous time of the year for the non-fan. (Of course, if you’re on this site this may not apply to you.)

First, a little history about the game itself...

Charlie Whitehurst invented football in 1674 near Borgholm, Sweden as a means of using the discarded clipboards lying around his grandfather’s shop. Over the years, many changes have taken place to the game Mr. Whitehurst invented. While initially played in loincloths exclusively by men with flowing locks and impeccably trimmed beards, football was forced to adapt because it gets cold in Borgholm and no one was comfortable with grown men running around mostly nude smacking each other with clipboards.

Pads were quickly added as the boards left painful welts that not even Helgi, the local alchemist, could make go away. Shortly after the pads, uniforms were added so teams could identify each other and have runway fashion shows during half time. (Half time, coincidentally, was invented as a way to have these fashion shows, contrary to what the Pepsi commercial maintains. Oddly enough, the Marstrand Two Legged Reindeer, the precursor of today’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost every show.)

Helmets were added after Bjorn, the local blacksmith joined the league. Bjorn had been horribly scarred in a freak curling accident involving a caribou and six tubs of bacon grease. To hide his hideous visage, the coach of the team he was on, Charlie’s Valkyries, tossed a bear head on Bjorn. The other players and teams liked it so much they all went to get bears and hogs and even, in the case of one enterprising player, a massive fjord salmon.

Gradually, the clipboards became less interesting to use as weapons and the idea was put forth to have players throw and carry a balled up hedgehog. This proved to be untenable as the hedgehog did not care for this arrangement and the spines were painful. Eventually, a ball was introduced without the spines but the man responsible for the ball was mostly blind and the object ended up more of an egg shape than round. No one wanted to hurt his feelings so they just left it that way. It also added to the amusement level when the ball bounced unpredictably and struck someone in the groin.

Whitehurst, in a show of protest against the changes to his game, refused to give up the clipboard and, to this day, you can see him stalking the sidelines, luxurious hair flowing from under his baseball cap, beard immaculate, eyes ablaze with the knowledge that the game he invented now sells more beer than any other sport in the world except competitive darts.


Next time: Football takes a quantum leap forward, hoping to get back…home.

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