This has been in the back of my head for a while, but this post at The Run of Play made me decide to bring it out front.
It’s not just that they look alike — they play alike. They are all natural talent and athleticism. They can slip past defenders with a dogged agility that belies the nonchalance we might see on the surface. Some days, it appears that they can score at will. When they do, they ask for your praise, and the conceit of the request is lost on you because of the highlight-reel moment they just created. This is our gift to you. Be good little children and say, “Thank you.”
Yet the potential always remains just that, doesn’t it? No matter how much the potential becomes kinetic — 23 touchdowns in 2007! 22 goals in 33 appearances! — it never seems to move quickly enough. We want more. We see the talent in front of us, and record books aren’t enough. We want the mythical from them. We want to be able point them out to the kids and say, “These were the greatest men that ever played.”
We can’t seem to say that, though, without the caveat: “These were the greatest men when they wanted to be.” As if it’s a switch they can turn on and off at will. Maybe it is. Maybe that’s why it never seems to be enough. We want that switch to remain on all the time so that we may marvel at the electricity, ignoring the possibility that it might burn out.
They could be taking high-flying marks at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. They could be booting little wobblers and flying past Bryan Habana and Joe Rokocoko for tries. The football code doesn’t matter. The football player does. If Moss had switched places with Adebayor at birth, Arsenal fans would be stupefied at his miss in front of goal against Milan last Wednesday, while New England Patriots fans would witness a dropped pass with more awe than a touchdown catch. What? He’s human? How can that be?
We keep watching, though, because we want to add to the highlight reel. We want more than what we think they’re actually giving us. Perhaps that was the plan all along — always leave them wanting more. If we didn’t want more, we wouldn’t keep watching football, would we?