Jump ahead to
1985, when Vicky delivered what seemed like a perfect baby boy, Jason. But
after four hours Jason's lips started to turn blue. The infant had pulmonary
and heart problems that required surgery. Fine. Then his heart required another
operation. O.K. But then he needed to have his gallbladder removed, and during
that surgery he lost a kidney. That was real scary. Then he required heart
surgery a third time, which was not so fine but was not as bad as the fourth
operation, for which his body temperature had to be dropped to 30� before the
doctors could start the eight-hour procedure. Then the flu sent him back to the
hospital for five days. "All that put everything in perspective for us real
quick," Hostetler says. Life was definitely not going the way he'd planned
But Jason got
better, and so did the football. When Simms went down with an ankle injury in
the middle of the 1989 season, Parcells finally gave Hostetler a shot. Once he
found his helmet, he started twice and won twice, throwing a touchdown pass in
each game. That was good enough for Parcells, who cut Rutledge loose under Plan
B last February and installed Hostetler as quarterback 1-A going into training
So when Simms
suffered a sprained right arch five weeks ago, with the Giants already
guaranteed work in the postseason, Hoss, as his teammates call him, found his
ship had finally docked. He beat the Phoenix Cardinals and New England Patriots
to end the regular season, and then he wiped out the Chicago Bears in the
opening round of the playoffs, running two times to convert fourth downs. Bears
coach Mike Ditka called him the best running quarterback in the league
"outside of [Randall] Cunningham."
Yeah, but could
he beat Joe God and the San Francisco 49ers in The Stick? In the NFC
Championship Game? He could. On Sunday he forgot to wilt in front of the Niner
legend. Damned if he wasn't still right in it with a quarter to play and San
Francisco leading 13-9.
Then suddenly it
looked as if his ship had sunk. As Hostetler dropped back to pass, 49er
noseguard Jim Burt, a former Giant, dived at Hostetler's left knee and buckled
it. "I figured I was out of the game," Hostetler said afterward.
Beautiful. One quarter away from going to The Show and destiny blew by
Hostetler as if he were a hitchhiker with pets. "It hurt like crazy,"
he said after the game, "but at this point in my season and at this point
in the game and, really, at this point in my career, I knew I wasn't coming
backup, Matt Cavanaugh, looked catatonic, and New York punted. Defensive end
Leonard Marshall of the Giants got a payback on Montana, creaming him from
behind, breaking a bone in his right hand, severely bruising his sternum and
generally testing his Tylenol supply. "That's what we call justice around
here," said New York linebacker Lawrence Taylor afterward. " Jim Burt's
hit was a cheap shot."
punted. Destiny made a U-turn.
go?" Parcells had asked Hostetler minutes before.
so," Hoss said.
you can go?" Parcells asked him one play later.