Posted by Brian from Shawnee on December 09, 2005
In Reply to: Taking the apple posted by Smokey Stover on December 09, 2005
: : : I was reading a sports column about the National Football League by Peter King and noticed a weird expression - one I had not previously witnessed. I checked this site and didn't see it mentioned here. Has anyone heard of the phrase "take the apple"? Is he being clever, and making a play on some other expression? I get the idea of what he's saying, but I definitely don't understand the expression. Here's the expression, with context.
: : : ---quote---
: : : Jay Feely field goals missed in the last eight days: four. Jay Feely field goals missed in the previous 344 days: three. I don't believe a thing from the [New York] Giants about their support for kicker Jay Feely. They can say whatever they want, but you know they're all thinking the same thing: Is this guy taking the apple at the crucial time of the season.
: : Maybe he ate from the Tree of Knowledge and got self-conscious thinking about his kicks too much, and started choking. That's a guess. I'm familiar with Feely's recent woes, but not the phrase.
: I'm not sure that any such expression is common currency, but I'm immediately put in mind of an ancient footrace, in which the prize was the mighty heroine Atalanta. Whoever could best her in a footrace would have her hand. Aphrodite assisted one of the contestants by giving him a peck of golden apples to strew on the race course. Atalanta became distracted and lost.
: However, the prize was not an apple. That was in another contest, over which of three goddesses was more beautiful, namely, Aphrodite, Athena and Hera. There was no footrace, just a plain beauty contest, in which Paris was to be the judge and a golden apple the first (and only) prize. Naturally Aphrodite won, having promised Paris the winning bribe (the love of Helen).
: I may have got some of this wrong. It's been a long time since that race and I've forgotten a lot. SS
A little googling reveals a few more sports-related uses of this phrase to mean choking, or performing poorly in a sports contest, but also at least one instance where it means the opposite of choking. Pitcher Brent Mayne of the Colorado Rockies used it to indicate he had the guts to pitch at Coors Field when he said "Yeah, I'll take the apple." http://espn.go.com/mlb/columns/stark_jayson/703979.html
...still no indication of how this phrase originated.