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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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Fictional football team

Posted 09-25-2010 at 12:34 PM by TommyJohn
Updated 09-26-2010 at 05:01 PM by TommyJohn

Autumn and a young man's thoughts turn to...football. Hm. Funny how that never caught on like the saying about springtime.

Football season is upon us, however, and with it comes thoughts of something else I did when I was young and hormonal and in need of a date-created my very own football team.

I don't remember where or when the actual idea for a football team came to me-I had always imagined fictional football players the same way I had imagined fictional baseball players, but I placed them on real teams. Around my senior year in high school I came up with the idea of a fictional pro football team, one on which I could place my fictional players and think of seasons and stories around them. The place I chose to put my football team was Honolulu, Hawaii.

This was an unusual choice, to be sure. I did it for two reasons-One, Honolulu doesn't have a pro team; Two-I had always liked the look of Aloha Stadium on TV whenever I watched the Pro Bowl. I just thought a pro team would look good playing in it. I thought of several names for the team and it came down to the Honolulu Islanders and the Honolulu Sharks. I went with the Sharks.

I decided to make the Sharks part of the old American Football League, coming into existence in 1960. They would of course join the NFl after the merger and be part of the AFC West. I actually researched how schedules were set up in football back then so that I could present a realistic schedule of games. I wrote year-by-year results. I even sat down and wrote season summaries for them from 1960-87. That year is as far as I got, and never really went back to it. After college I sat and wrote some more stuff about the Sharks, with the hope of forming some kind of book or story, but my mediocrity struck again-I just thought that it was useless. So I put the stuff away for years. I don't know why I am coming back to it now. Mid-life thing, I guess. I don't think I could have ever published any of it, but maybe I should've stuck with it. problem is, if you have a vivid imagination and get paid for it, then you are great and can own the world. If you have a vivid imagination but don't get paid for it, then you are Rupert Pupkin-a talentless nobody whose betters sneer at his lack of talent and various psychoses. Whenever I try to utilize my imagination to create something, I feel like Rupert Pupkin. I could almost feel the sneers of the superior critics passing judgment from their perches high above the rest of us mere mortals.

There was another crimp in the meantime-Oliver Stone and his film "Any Given Sunday." It depicts a team named the Sharks. The uniform design is similar (mine were yellow with black trim, though) as is a plot piece. In my Shark history, a left-handed quarterback gets injured and opens the door for a hotshot, cocky black rookie. That part of my story is set in 1965, at a time when black quarterbacks were non-existent. I wanted my fictional guy to be alone, literally.

These similarities alone would cause any publisher to reject my material-"you stole it from Oliver Stone!" I didn't, of course. Cliched sports stories are not Oliver Stone's intellectual property. It is simply a coincidence. I never copyrighted my material back in the 1980's, so I could never prove that to be the case. The only thing I could point to is the age of the paper I wrote the stories on.

One difference with "AGS" that I must point out-I created few female characters, mostly wives of players. I assure you my female characters are not vulgar, stumbling alcoholics or screeching, goldigging bitches from hell like you saw in that movie.

The whole similarity with "Any Given Sunday" did prompt me to try and think of another name for the team, or another team altogether, should I get serious about wanting to write about the adventures of my team. I thought of the Honolulu Islanders, Warriors, Hawaiians, Kings, Bombers, Admirals, etc. None of them have stuck with me like the Sharks. if I had to choose I would probably go with Islanders.

The other possibility is to "move" my franchise to Chicago, and come up with one of two scenarios:

1. The Cardinals leave town, so the AFL jumps in and fills the void with an AFL franchise, much to the raging, profane, vulgar anger of George Halas. My problem with this is I can't really think of a good "Chicago"-type name for the team.

2. This scenario would be an "alternate" history of the NFL in which the Cardinals don't leave in 1960. They stay in Chicago under new owners, much to the raging, profane, vulgar anger of George Halas. I would put the Cards in the Bears division and put the Detroit Lions in another-and use Detroit's schedule of games as the Cardinals' games. This would not be very hard-where I once had to look through encyclopedias and such to figure out schedules, all I have to do know is a few clicks on the computer, and everything I want is right there on the internet.

So, those are the possibilities. But for now, because these characters are nowhere but in my head, I am just going with the Honolulu Sharks.
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