Craig "Ironhead" Heyward died this week. He was a decent football player, and a total mess of a human being. He is probably best remembered for his commercial for Zest bodywash.
When I was in high school, my friends and I would meet for a football game on the Friday after Thanksgiving. We called the game "The Turkey Bowl" and we would play tackle, with no pads. Since it was a pickup game, anyone who was in the park could play if they wanted. I was a little late for Turkey Bowl 1982, and as I arrived, my friends came over and told me, in concerned tones, that Ironhead was playing for the other team.
"His name is Craig Heyward, he's, like, all-state or something at Passaic High."
"Well so what?"
"He's really good."
I was undaunted by my friends warnings and I told them that I would play quarterback if they were too scared. My friends agreed and I took my first snap, keeping an eye on Ironhead who was playing in a linebacker position opposite me. I dropped back to pass, and while looking for an open receiver, I saw Ironhead rush in on a delayed blitz. Right before he would have made contact with me, I pump faked and got out of his way. Ironhead breezed past me and I headed down the field. I was amazed at how easily I eluded him, and was concerned about two defenders converging toward me from opposite sides of the field. I sprinted as fast as I could, trying to thread the needle and get through the two defenders. Before I could reach that point, I was hit from behind by Craig's iron head. Not only did he manage to change directions and catch up with me downfield, he hit me with such force that the lenses popped out of my glasses. Mimicking my favorite football players, I popped up ready for the next play, while trying to mask my pain and the fact that I had the wind knocked out of me.
The strategy for the rest of the game was to keep the ball away from Ironhead.
Last night when I showered in Passaic, I gave a long sigh when I picked up my lather thingie.
Craig Heyward 1966-2006