Sports Illustrated: In My Tribe

Most of the people who know me know that I love college football and, more specifically, the Nebraska Cornhuskers.  I never attended the University of Nebraska but I grew up on a farm in Nebraska.  There was always work to be done on the farm but on a Fall Saturday I would never be far away from a radio so I could hear the radio broadcast of my beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers and the opponent I hoped they would defeat that day.

My pride for my Nebraska Cornhuskers is about to come forth and I wanted to share with you the first paragraph and last section of an article, In My Tribe, written by Terry McDonell in the November 28, 2011, issue of Sports Illustrated.

First Paragraph:  In the fall of 1980, when SI senior writer Lars Anderson was nine years old and living in Lincoln, his father took him to the Florida State-Nebraska game. With less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, the highly favored Cornhuskers had the ball on the Seminoles’ three-yard line, trailing 18-14. That’s when heartbreak visited Nebraska: Quarterback Jeff Quinn fumbled. Florida State recovered. Game over. Then, as Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden and his team walked off the field, the crowd rose to its feet in appreciation of the underdogs’ hard-fought victory. At first it was just polite clapping, the kind you hear at a golf tournament, but then fans started cheering for Bowden and his players, building to one of the loudest roars of the day. Tears of disappointment ran down Lars’s cheeks as his father put his arm around him, pointed to the red-clad fans in full throat and said, “Lars, this is as good as sports gets.”

Last Section:  The rearview mirror has always been the best oracle when it comes to sports. More than 30 years after Lars Anderson saw that Florida State-Nebraska game with his father, he was reporting a story about the history of spring football and had lunch with Coach Bowden in Birmingham. Near the end of the conversation, Anderson mentioned that he was from Lincoln. The coach’s eyes lit up. Without prompting, he recalled that day three decades earlier when the fans of Nebraska cheered him off the field.

“What a moment,” Bowden said, a grin spreading over his face. “Wow.”

And then these two men, two generations apart, just looked at each other until Bowden spoke again.

“The classiest thing I ever experienced.”

Thanks for indulging me for a few moments to share my love of Nebraska football.  Go Huskers!  Go Big Red!

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