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"He was trying to prove a point," said Goux, as if to explain a natural chain of events. He said it began the summer before, when Rossovich was swinging on a rope over and into the Russian River near Palo Alto, competing with friends for a $40 pot. The object was to see who had the guts to land nearest a rock cliff. Rossovich assured himself of victory by crashing flush into the rocks. He said he knew he couldn't get any closer than that. But in triumph he sliced up his elbows, and a few days later when he dived into a contaminated fish pond at a USC fraternity party he developed an infection. He went into a coma. For four days he was incoherent. In the hospital he threw chairs and smashed a television set. The doctors told him to lay off football for eight weeks.
But when Rossovich got out of the hospital he pronounced himself ready to go. To prove it to Goux, he ran across the training room and banged head first into a locker. "See? I'm fine," he said. "I see, but the doctors say no," said Goux. The scene was repeated almost every day after that, Rossovich ramming home his point, Goux wincing but unyielding. No locker was safe.
Over the succeeding years, Goux said, he became especially fond of Rossovich. He used to drop by the house Rossovich and a friend rented their senior year. There was always a wrecked car out front, he said, and a keg of beer inside, and sawdust on the floor for the fake fights they staged. "They were really artistic," said Goux, "bodies hurtling around and bouncing off the walls."
Goux took a visitor on an automobile tour of Rossovich's former haunts: the Sigma Chi house where he had eaten many a glass, the various buildings he had fallen off of. Goux stopped when he came to a one-story frame house on University Avenue, just off fraternity row. The house appeared to be falling apart. The shingles hung like dead leaves. Grass and weeds grew all around. A piece of an automobile lay in the yard. There was a sign, scrawled in red, nailed to the front porch: CURE VIRGINITY.
"It's the same as when Timmy lived there," said Goux. "Exactly the same."
"Ah, that Timbo," said Craig Fertig. "He was a legend."
"He was already a legend when I met him," said Mikey (for Michel) Rossovich, "and he was only a sophomore then. My girl friends were shocked when I told them we were engaged. They said, 'You must be crazy!' They said, 'Don't do it!' "
Smiling, she passed around glasses of iced tea in the living room of the Rossovich home in Manhattan Beach—a leggy, striking brunette in bare feet and short shorts and a T shirt. Two-year-old Jamie Rossovich sat in the middle of the orange-on-orange rug, engaging in her own exclusive conversation. Tim Rossovich sat on the big billowy sofa, dressed only in green shorts with PHILADELPHIA EAGLES embroidered in an arc on the left leg. He said it was his California uniform. His hair, down to his shoulders, was parted in the middle, and he stroked it with both hands. Stephen Stills blared on the stereo and a parrot named Pancho made clicking noises as he chewed a newspaper in his cage.
"I think a lot of it was jealousy because he did things other people only dream of doing," said Mikey. "Some of the things he got blamed for weren't even his fault, but he had a reputation, and he was a little impulsive."