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Lowell Cohn: 49ers vs. Seahawks as thrilling as a playground brawl

  • Seattle Seahawks' Cliff Avril, left, forces a fumble by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

This is about the 49ers and the Seahawks. Trust me.

When I was 13, I heard Vazquez and Greenspan were going to fight each other. They didn't know me. They were the older kids, probably 16. At that time of life, the difference between 13 and 16 is forever.

We all hung out at the playground on Avenue L in Brooklyn, a cement rectangle almost the size of a city block, the whole thing bordered by a chain link fence. The place reminded you of the exercise yard in a prison. We called the playground the Park although it was hardly park-like. It was where we played city games — punch ball, stickball, slap ball, you name them. And one day I heard the big kids talking. Vazquez and Greenspan, two very big teenagers, had a beef.

I did not understand their beef. But it was serious enough to cause talk and the talk included a date. They were going to meet after school tomorrow, meet on the punch ball court in broad daylight and fight.

I felt a thrill that made my insides churn. I talked to no one about the fight. But I thought about it, thought about it constantly during school the next day knowing the fight would happen about 4 o'clock, knowing something important would happen in their world and mine.

I paid no attention in class, visions of Vazquez and Greenspan invading my mind. I ran home after school, dumped my books and hurried to the Park across the street from our apartment — five people, two bedrooms, one bathroom. I waited. I waited alone, talking to no one, not even to my friends. This was about Vazquez and Greenspan, but it also was about me.

From opposing baselines of the punch ball court Vazquez and Greenspan approached each other. In my memory the approach was formalized, two big mean serious 16-year-olds walking in slow motion, their faces angry. There was a crowd of watchers. Vazquez and Greenspan grabbed each other as I gasped, because this was it. It was happening.

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