Monday, 12 September 2011

Under the Lights

Carlos Osorio, AP

It was October 2004 in North Carolina, and I had just finished over 4 years of active duty in the US Army.  By December I would be back in Michigan.  Since coming back from Iraq (and before that Afghanistan) I hadn’t had the will to do much but do nothing and drink.  I wasn’t depressed or traumatized, I just felt like I had done enough.  But I never drank on Saturday and I still don’t know why.
I was sitting on the couch in my apartment, getting ready to watch the game against Michigan State (I thought).  My roommates were gone for the weekend, I hadn’t shaved in a week, my hair was shaggy (seriously, I’m talking some Beatles hair here folks) and I was excited.  Then I found out instead of Michigan/MSU, a rivalry game, I would be getting North Carolina vs. Not-Duke and I was not happy.
As UNC vs. Not-Duke rolled along I was getting treated to sporadic updates of Michigan getting pounded in the face.  And I wanted a drink.  Finally, ABC decided it might be a good idea to switch over from UNC vs. Not-Duke and show a game people might actually care about.  I watched as Chad Henne strolled up to the line and I watched as he launched a ball down the left sideline.  I watched as Braylon Edwards adjusted and made the catch and I watched as he frantically waved his teammates up to the ball.  I saw Henne launch a prayer into the night, and I saw Braylon go up and snatch it from the defender as the announcer screamed “Deep into the endzone for Edwards….takes it away!!”
That night I watched Braylon Edwards pick his team up, put them on his back and tell them they weren’t losing.  I may have cried a little.  And I watched Brandon Minor and Chris Graham and others do it in 2008, and Tate Forcier do it in 2009, and a wonderful, humble young man with a megawatt smile named Denard Robinson do it in 2010.  I saw him do things I've never seen before, and when he took a knee in the endzone to pray it was so sincere it made you think God might be listening to him and only him at that moment.

I’m older now.  I’m married and I shave regularly and I have a job and a life. I moved away from Michigan again and I don’t drink much at all anymore and I saw it all again Saturday night.  But somehow it was different, under all those lights.  That wonderful young man from 2010 will get most of the credit, but this time it didn’t feel like any one player carried everyone else with them.  It felt like a whole team struggled early and often and then decided that enough was enough and no way are we losing this game.  Junior Hemingway went up and took balls away from two defenders.  Denard Robinson picked up fumbles and ran them in for touchdowns.  Jeremy Gallon found himself wide open and cut across the field for yardage and got out of bounds.  Will Campbell and Jake Ryan said it was time to stop the run.  And Roy Roundtree made the biggest catch he may ever make.  It was wild and heart stopping; incredible.

Gregory Shamus, Getty

When I named this blog I never thought it could be taken as a Notre Dame blog.  I actually got the saying from the CBC announcer doing the US vs. Algeria game at the World Cup.  When Landon Donovan put in the goal in stoppage time, it was one of the best calls I’ve ever heard at a sporting event and it stuck with me. 

From hope there is glory.  It certainly sounds like something Notre Dame fans would say.  But they want to return to glory.  To my mind the glory has never left Michigan.  We have the glory of our past and we have these wonderful young men who deserve all the glory that the Michigan faithful can bestow upon them.  The hope maybe we lost for awhile.   We fans may have almost lost hope on Saturday (or more than “almost”), but the team never did.  They battled and they fought under the brilliance of the lights and they came out on top in the end.  Return to glory?  Not for this team.  For this team, the glory of that night will never fade.  And I might just have a drink (but only one) to celebrate.
Go Blue.

No comments:

Post a Comment