We take our
half-time break at opposite ends of the field. Next to us the jayvees are
crushing Cornell. Our "crowd" moves over to watch that game. On the far
field the freshmen are warming up for their game.
The heat is
taking its toll. We don't have much depth and most of us have gone both ways.
The sweat has soaked my uniform. The manager sponges off my face with ice
water. It sends a chill down my back. I lie down to try to gain back some of my
strength. Actually, we couldn't be in a better situation. We have the momentum.
We're hitting harder than any game since last year against Navy. If only we can
stop making so many mistakes.
Too soon half
time is over. I try to loosen up. Lying down has made me stiff. I'm still not
ready when we line up again for the kickoff. They run the kick-off back to
midfield, but we stop them on their first drive.
Here we fall
apart. When we start to crumble, everything goes. It's hard to look back later
and remember just what it was that you did wrong. Maybe it was what you didn't
do right. The second half is a mass of mistakes. By the end of the game we have
given the ball away a total of five times, twice on interceptions and three
times on fumbles. Rutgers wins 20-2.
In the dressing
room everything moves in slow motion. We are in a trance. I peel my wet uniform
off piece by piece. All the dirty stuff goes in the hamper in the middle of the
room. I ball up my shirt and throw it across the room. It misses the hamper and
hits the floor with a wet slop. The air is filled with sweat-soaked uniform
jerseys, but few people are talking.
The coach comes
in. He doesn't say anything about the game. That will be covered on Monday.
"I've got some frustrating news to tell you. I haven't received a copy of
the new league rules, but apparently they've been changed. I just learned from
the Rutgers coach that weigh-ins are to be held two days before the game
instead of one. So don't go gorging yourself. You've got to make weight earlier
Two days to gain
back weight. And along with the weight, the strength that is lost. I can't help
thinking that maybe we wouldn't have died in the second half if we had weighed
in on Thursday.
Both teams share
the shower room. Our silence and long faces distinguish us even without
uniforms. The warm water feels good flowing over my body. Then for the first
time I start to feel the bruises. During the game 1 didn't even notice them. I
can tell that I'm going to be awfully stiff tomorrow.
the dressing room as I button my shirt. Others are quietly eating the milk and
sandwiches we get after games. Finally the silence is shattered.
is like a morgue." It's Bo Holmes, the trainer. "Hell, it's not the end
of the world, you know."