Categorized | Sports

America In Wartime, 1962

Lovely day for football! Lovely day! The fans are filling in now, full capacity expected. It’s 72 degrees here. There’s the coach now trotting out to midfield. He’s got that steely glare. Hard to imagine his boys have lost their last three with that glare.

They’re not boys. They’re men, they’re men so long as they follow formation. Our men are grand. Looking at the line-up, you get a sense of uneasiness, don’t you, Jim?

You do, Ernie. We’re certainly larger, but what do we know about the opponents? You wonder what rules they play by in practice, how they’re shaping up. You hear things.

Oh absolutely, Jim. What do you hear?

Nothing this week. Nothing the last. That’s when you know we’re in for a show. Hoo boy, it will be a scrum.

Let’s take it down to the field with Sondra. Sondra?

Ernie, I spoke to the coach this morning and he emphasized hitting. He said, “I’m not happy with the pile of bodies in our last match-up. Our defense is banged up. We need our offensive weapons to step up and hit without mercy.”

Thanks, Sondra. Jim, what do you make of this team’s stunning record on the road?

Well, it’s easier to win at home, certainly. And they have lost the last nine on the road, but overall they’re solid. But they march into road games expecting to win. Coach was blown away by this squad’s nailbiting loss last week. He said, “It’s like every game is our turf. Sometimes you get unlucky”.

You mentioned the way they march down the field, you wonder if he’s right.

Phenomenal. Grand.

Here’s the coin toss now. The home team calls heads. And heads it is!

They elect to kick off. Your thoughts on that?

Classic coaching brilliance right there. Gets your boys fired up. Sure, let them come at us. Force the punt. That’s why you see this team at the 40, the 35 to start their drives. They won’t budge.

Ho———-ld on a minute, Jim. This boy is flying upfield. Escapes one tackler. There’s a swarm on him, but he makes it out! Blockers up front get  flattened. He’s being pushed to the sidelines. Nice move there! He could be free. Only the kicker to beat. Oh, he trips himself up. What a shame.

You expected that.

We did? [Laughs]

Had to. Had to.

Grant, onto the field at quarterback. Receivers three wide.

Ernie, I wouldn’t be surprised if our defense goes blitz, blitz, blitz. This quarterback doesn’t have the cannon to get downfield.

Grant hasn’t seen the action in a while. We certainly expect a little rust.

Rust, well, yeah. But there wasn’t much there in the first place.

Instead they go with a run play. Golly! He is blown up quick.

Yup. Yup. That’s what they do.

Andy Roberts has a quick update for us. Andy?

[Andy’s voice. Offense breaks from huddle.]

Ernie, we’ve all been hearing about the coach’s future, with many fans vocalizing a demand for him to be fired. Today, General Manager Dan Bloom said, ‘We’re aware of their anger, but we have no preparations for a change at this time’. Ernie?

Thanks, Andy. Backs lined up in the I. This time Grant drops back, fakes the handoff. Claremont is deep down field, Grant fires! and the pass falls incomplete. He’s getting closer, Ernie.

Yeah, he is, and a credit to him for bringing the team out and trying to win games in Jackson’s absence.

Jackson, of course, hampered by a severe abdominal strain.

The reports are exaggerated, Ernie.

Whoa! Some skepticism, perhaps, by you, Jim?

Well, the reports are that his throwing motion is fine and he only has trouble with mobility. This is just a game, son. Get back out there. You signed a contract, the fans want to see you. I’ve seen guys hit so hard that they had to play on one leg, but that’s what you do.

There, of course, is the idea, Jim, that this young man is the future of the franchise. Can’t risk him getting hurt.

Pardon me for speaking freely, but I’m a little tired of this ‘franchised’ argument. When your team is staring at a season-deciding game, there are no restricted players, in my mind. You throw yourself into the pile and hope to come out the other side.

Some fiery rhetoric from our own Jim McDougal.

————–

Final seconds of the fourth quarter here. 48-10. Boy, was this unexpected.

Very disappointing game, Ernie. They had the opportunities to win. They should have won.

Grant, though, with a terrific game: 388 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception.

I don’t really want to talk about Grant. He played with passion and credit to him, but this team lost focus of fundamental football.

Perhaps for our viewers at home, you could break down what that means?

I’ll say this: the zeal was not there. It’s supposed to be poetic. These guys are getting $1,300 a year to play the game we all want to see. If I have to sit through another game where players are jumping out of bounds because they don’t want to take it to the knees, well, I’ll quit my job.

[Laughs] Don’t quit just yet.

Where’s the spirit, Ernie? In my golden days, we didn’t whine about being treated like human beings. We behaved like men. Coach wants us to rip someone’s head off? Consider it done. We don’t need to know why. Don’t gripe about paychecks and families to feed. Don’t sit on the bench because you’re sore. The game is bigger than your problems.

We know a bit more about football than we used to. Some serious repercussions in the long run.

Ernie, ask the crowd right now who gives a —- about the long run.

They seem pretty raucous right about —

[Feed cut. A message: ‘Sorry for the inconvenience! We’ll get you back to the action soon.’]

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About the Author

Chris O'Toole (Colorado State '12, Chapman '15) recently finished a Screenwriting MFA. He has written for Livestrong, CBS, and other publications. Love, hate, and job offers can be sent to: otool102@mail.chapman.edu