Written by Stanley Greenberg Friday, 09 October 2009 00:00
Stanley Greenberg may be your favorite columnist, but he’s our father and in honor of his 75th birthday we are giving him the week off. Don’t worry, he’ll be back next week with another installment of “Over 60 and Getting Younger.” In the meantime, allow us to introduce you to the Stanley Greenberg you may not know…the Joe Montana of Marshall Lane.
Adam Greenberg: When we were growing up in Westbury – and it was not that long ago - there was a period after school and before dinner, when all the kids in the neighborhood would actually play sports in the street. Nowadays kids are shuttled off to some officially sanctioned football or soccer practice on a nightly basis. I’m not sure what happened, but I rarely see kids gather by themselves for a football game in the street anymore. Organic foods, yes. Organic football games, no.
Cara Greenberg: There were the Bentley boys, the Lubash brothers and a few other boys of various ages who would congregate in front of the Greenberg house to play ball before dinner. Nearly every night they played. If it was soccer, then maybe I would join in. But mostly it was my younger brothers Adam and Gregg playing when it came to football. Now I play football and all different sports with my two kids, but I generally sat out the Marshall Lane football battles.
Gregg Greenberg: It wasn’t that rough. It was two-hand touch. The end zones were the tree next to Schultz Street on one side and the end of the Rosenberg’s house on the other.
Adam: On most nights the game would end before my father came home from work at his dentist office, so we would already be washing up for dinner when he pulled up in the station wagon. Every now and then, however, if a game ran long, he would pull in while we were still playing. Then he would join in, rearranging the teams if necessary.
Cara: What can I say? My dad likes to play games in the street. You know what? He still does.
Gregg: Of course he had to play quarterback. And he only ran a few plays. Usually trick ones.
Adam: He ran “student body left”, which is a running play where the whole team rushes left. Then “student body right”. Then a fake hand-off with a short pass play. He loved fake hand offs. I’m sure he still does.
Gregg: Then he would run “the old football in the back of the shirt trick.”
Adam: That one rarely worked.
Gregg: The Statue of Liberty play was another favorite.
Cara: That one never worked.
Gregg: He may have run crazy plays but he did move the ball downfield. Well, down the street, not the field. He was a great leader in these little games, making it fun for everybody. He got everybody involved, even the younger kids like myself.
Adam: And when we would get close to the other team’s end zone, he would call a time out and call his team into a huddle.
Cara: All this after a full day of work mind you. None of the other dads really joined in. One thing you should know is that my dad is a really great athlete. He can be overly competitive sometimes. But, in retrospect, it was very cool that he was out there playing with the neighborhood kids. It brought the neighborhood together.
Gregg: So, we are in the huddle and he’s diagramming all these plays on his hand. Then he scratches it and just calls student body right.
Adam: But that’s not what he ends up doing.
Gregg: No, everybody lines up at the line of scrimmage, ready to go right. But he takes the snap, fakes the hand-off and runs left with the ball all by himself with no blockers. And he goes right into the other team’s end-zone. A quarterback keeper.
Adam: The naked reverse. And it never failed.
Gregg: He walked into the end zone, holding the ball aloft so everybody could see it. Meanwhile, he was laughing and celebrating his game-ending, game-winning run.
Adam: That usually ended the game, so after that we went in for dinner.
Cara: Oh, and we certainly heard about the naked reverse during dinner. He might as well have won the Superbowl.
Gregg: Well, it was our Superbowl. And he was a damn good quarterback.
Adam: But why did everybody fall for that same stupid play every time?
Cara: He just knew how to sell it I guess.
Adam/Gregg: Still does.