He accompanied his teammates to the January 1999 Fiesta Bowl, but suffered blinding headaches caused by leaking spinal fluid. One day in Phoenix he tried to pick up a football, but his arm and hand were so weak that the ball dropped to the ground. "That scared me," he says. It would be nearly eight months before he was tackled again.
That's all in the past now, a chapter in one of the longest player biographies in college football history. "It would be an understatement to call it a roller-coaster ride," says Weinke. He's standing in his family room. The walls are decorated with miniature football helmets, and outside the door, in the backyard, empty beer kegs are swimming in huge plastic ice buckets, the detritus of Saturday-night postgame parties. It's a good life for an old man. "Even if I had the chance to go back nine years," says Weinke, "I wouldn't change anything."