Which major sport provides by far the most metaphorical allusions to history, politics and literature?
Without question, it is football. In light of the fact that writers, reporters and commentators link gridiron activities to these subjects of public interest might well indicate that football aficionados are the most literate fans anywhere.
Here are a few of the many allusions they see and hear:
n Christian Holgard, assistant coach at North Dakota State, who during his entire high school football career never heard his school's fight song because his team never scored a touchdown: "I was always under the impression that our school song was 'The Star Spangled Banner.'"
n Lou Holtz on why he started two freshmen on defense who had been playing tailback: "Hey, if the Titanic is going down, I'm not going to be playing the piano."
n And Holtz on his coaching staff, "I try to get the best assistant coaches possible. According to the Bible, Joseph died leaning on his staff. I think the same will be said for me."
n Beano Cook, ESPN commentator, on Penn State's venerable head coach: "Joe Paterno is an Italian who has more victories than Julius Caesar."
n And Cook after the undefeated University of Virginia lost to Georgia Tech and was knocked out of first place in the ACC: "This is the worst thing to happen in Virginia since Appomattox."
n Andrea Mitchell, NBC White House correspondent, to anchorman Tom Brokaw regarding the dispute over the tax increase deficit-reduction plan in 1990: "Tom, the only play for the Republicans today was to drop back and punt and then hope for a Democratic fumble in the fourth quarter."
n Louis D. Clark, historian, Thomas Jefferson fan, and knowledgeable football observer: "Offensive footballl is enjoyable. But the defensive players stand out because they appreciate life, liberty and the happiness of pursuit."
n Bum Phillips, after his South team lost to the North in the Senior Bowl game: "Now I know why the South lost the Civil War. They must have had the same officials."
n Arthur Donovan, former Baltimore Colt great, regarding New England's placekicker, John Smith, who missed two field goals and two extra-point attempts vs. the Colts: "He must have been thinking about Pocahontas."
n Sign at the Army-Notre Dame game: "We were underdogs on D-Day, too."
n Chuck Mooney on the persuasive powers of TCU coach Jim Wacker: "He could sell screen doors to a submarine commander."
n Marv Levy, former coach of the Buffalo Bills, when asked prior to one of his Super Bowl defeats if the game was a must win: "No. World War II was a must win."
n Two University of Tennessee football fans - one wearing a George W. Bush mask, the other one of Al Gore holding a sign reading: "The Electoral College. Another Florida school we can hate."
n Johnny Carson to Howard Cosell: "If I were Paul Revere, I'd never warn you."
n Vito Stellino, Baltimore Sun sports columnist, on NFL officiating: "Officiating in the NFL is shrouded in more secrecy than the KGB. It's time for glasnost for the men in the striped shirts."
n Carson, late night show host: "The last time the Browns were in a playoff, Cleveland wasn't a city. It was a President."
n Author Dan Jenkins about football: "God invented football so grown men would have something to do between wars."
Mitch Tullai, a sports historian and humorist and author of "Football's Best Quips, Quotes and Quellers." He resides in Lutherville, MD and is an occasional contributor to Voice of the Fan.