Rudy found one of those little sticks that doctors use to mash down a tongue. He used it to splint Headrick's thumb. He wrapped a bandage around Headrick's hand. As Rudy was finishing the bandage, Headrick tore away and ran back onto the field. Kansas City had punted, it was Houston's ball again, and Headrick returned to the game without missing a play.
An hour later, when that preseason game was over and the Chiefs had won, as they have been doing regularly this year, Headrick consented to enter an ambulance. His companion on the ride to the hospital was Garrett, who was going in to have his ribs X-rayed. They rode along in silence for a few minutes, Garrett looking at Headrick's thumb, and finally Garrett said, "Sherrill, that was one of the wildest things I ever saw."
"What's that, rook?" said Headrick.
"The way you went back in there with that broken thumb," Garrett said.
"This is pro ball, rook," said Headrick. "You can't let a little thing like a broken thumb keep you out of a game."
"You can't?" Garrett said.
"Of course not," said Headrick. "Why, I played two games with a broken neck. One time Jerry Mays broke his leg, taped it up and kept playing. Chris Burford almost got his shoulder torn off, but he stuck a little old piece of plaster on it and kept playing. Johnny Robinson broke every one of his ribs and didn't even mention it to anybody."
"Why didn't he?" Garrett said.
"Broken ribs aren't worth any fuss. He took a couple of aspirins and forgot it. By the way, rook," Headrick said as the ambulance turned into the emergency-room drive, "what's the matter with you?"
"Me?" said Garrett, who was bent over in pain. "Nothing."