Last Saturday, with Martin struggling, the Vols looked to Price for redemption once again. Fulmer told Cutcliffe, "David, there's a play out there somewhere. Just throw it in the area code of Peerless and something good will happen." Martin was on his back when his person-to-person call reached Price in the end zone, and he heard the roar. By the time he made it to his feet, he saw Price behaving almost casually, as if he had expected nothing less than what he had just done. Even so, says Price, who led all receivers with six catches for 97 yards, "I'm not there yet. Right now I'm just halfway through the threshold. Hopefully on January 4, for all the marbles, I'll step all the way through."
He was talking as he walked out of the stadium with a small pyramid of black polished stone tucked like a football under his arm. The inscription on the trophy read, SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE 1998
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
His girlfriend and 10 members of his family were waiting for him outside the stadium. Price looked in his mother's eyes close enough to see his own reflection. "I'm taking this home with me," Burress said, laughing as she tapped the trophy. When she gave her son his name, she merely wanted him to stand up for himself, to become his own man regardless of the prevailing tides. He didn't have to be the best. But that he was on this night: a man without equal.