H. Rap Brown, Sheep Meadow Quarterback

Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives. September 11, 1969, Vol. XIV, No. 48

Scenes by Howard Smith

SHEEP MEADOW in Central Park is one of the most used pieces of real estate in Manhattan, and now that fall is here the football players have appeared on the horizon. They have temporarily pushed aside the legions of kite flyers, baseball players, frisbee hurlers, and sun worshipers, and are vying with the soccer players for the turf.

Sheep Meadow pickup football games are primarily of the two-hand touch variety. People choose up sides, hardly anybody comes as part of a team, and usually there are many games going on simultaneously.

In the few years I've been playing up there, I've noticed, for one thing, that either the regulars are growing their hair, or longhairs have discovered the event. A sample game in itself is always a motley collection including, say, an assistant district attorney from the Bronx, a few Upper East Side bartenders, off-duty cops, an art director for a national magazine, an ad agency copywriter, and some film-makers. Last Sunday in one of the better-played games H. Rap Brown quarterbacked one team.

Sheep Meadow is one of the few city places where you can get good hard game-type exercise without having to join something. I try to play there Saturdays or Sunday, up until the first snow. I remember arriving on the Meadow last year at 9 a.m. and reading the neon temperature report off a distant building as six degrees. On days like these only about a dozen diehards will show up.

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]

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