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BUMPY JOURNEY TO OBLIVION
Scarff Downing
December 09, 1963
In a void of cheers a Princeton 150-pound footballer writes of a small, bruising world filled with dedication, perspiration—and the ever-present menace of the boiler room routine
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December 09, 1963

Bumpy Journey To Oblivion

In a void of cheers a Princeton 150-pound footballer writes of a small, bruising world filled with dedication, perspiration—and the ever-present menace of the boiler room routine

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I find my uniform with no trouble. No pads today, so the game pants and jersey go over my two layers of sweats as a final insulation. Have to keep the heat in to sweat a lot. We're supposed to see the movies of last year's game with Rutgers, but I decide I better go out to practice while it's still warm. I'll see the pictures later.

We aren't playing our game on the practice field. We get a different field for the game. The old field is used as a parking lot for the varsity games on weekends and all during the week the ROTC units march on it. By the time we use it for practice the field has more dust than Death Valley.

Terry DeLong, our right guard, and I are the first to inspect the new field. We decide that it's not great but it's better than the old field. It's all relative. The game field is right next to the jayvee field. Next to that is the freshman field. We all have home games tomorrow at overlapping times. I wonder if the whistles from the other games will affect us. Terry comments that if there are many penalties in the three games, it will look like the Fourth of July with the flags flying.

Terry is the perfect example of a lightweight football player. He was a halfback in high school and received mention on several all-state teams. When he came to Princeton he found, as many do, that he didn't have the size for college ball at the varsity level. Instead of quitting, he came to play for the 150s and switched to guard. Last year he was all-league at that position. We kid him about being an All-America since, being the only 150-pound league in the country, allleague is the same as being All-America.

"Some All-America," he answers. "I don't have enough newspaper clippings to gift-wrap a fountain pen."

Playing lightweight football is a new sensation for a lot of people. It is quite an enjoyable feeling for a 150-pound halfback to find himself suddenly able to run roughshod over a tackle who is no bigger than he is. At the same time, the 150-pound tackle can relish smashing heads with that ballcarrying blur who—he knows—cannot outweigh him. It is a pleasant experience for a small man to be able to go into a game not having to wonder if there will be enough of him left afterward to carry off on a stretcher.

Coach Dick Vaughn calls us together and we begin last-minute preparations for Rutgers. It's too late for new stuff today, so we polish up the old. First we work on our punt runback. Then we go over our own punt formation. We hope we won't have to punt ourselves, but we practice it anyway.

"Hey, coach," I say, "you want me to center for the punts?"

I've only been a center for one game. Before that I was a fullback. Then our center got married and quit and the shake-up was on.

"Hell, no. You stay out of there on punts. I don't trust you. You center long like a scatter gun."

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