- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Grogan had plenty of options if I was covered. He could throw to the weak-side wide receiver, Stanley Morgan, who would be slanting in at a wider and deeper angle from left to right. He could throw to the tight end, Russ Francis, who would be running a short, diagonal pattern toward the right sideline. He could dump the ball off to one of his running backs, or if everyone was covered, Grogan could run the ball himself, which was something he always liked to do.
We came out of the huddle, Grogan called his signals at the line, the ball was snapped, and the play was on.
I bolted downfield to the 16-yard line, broke toward the middle in front of Raider Cornerback Lester Hayes and then looked for the football. It should have been there waiting for me, but there was no sign of it. Maybe Grogan had gone to Stanley or to Russ. Or maybe he'd been sacked. Then all of a sudden—a second or a second and a half after I had made my break—there it was, very high, too high for me to catch it. I reacted instinctively and leaped as high into the air as I could, but the ball just flew past my outstretched fingertips.
I was on my way back to earth when, in a flash, I saw No. 32 of the Raiders, Jack Tatum, all 205 pounds of him, barreling toward me. I looked Tatum dead in the eye, and I saw his look. It was vicious. His eyes were on fire. He was cocking his bone, as we call it, his forearm, and he was coming fast. I saw him, saw the bone coming and dropped my head to get it as low as possible so that I could duck the arm. But it was too late. He delivered the blow. He cracked me on the head and on the back of my neck with full force. I hit the ground with a thud and....
Now, someone was standing next to my bed.
"Hi," this guy in a green coat said cheerfully. In his right hand he held what looked like a screwdriver. I thought that maybe he had stopped by to fix the air-conditioner or the window.
"I have some adjustments to make on your halo," he said.
Halo? What halo?
"This big steel ring around your head is attached to an 80-pound weight alongside your bed," he said. "The reason for it is to keep your head completely immobile. The halo is attached to your head with screws that have to be tightened twice a day. That's why I'm here. You'll be seeing a lot of me."
And then he took his screwdriver and went to work. "Don't be nervous," he said. "It only takes a couple of seconds to tighten 'em up." I was conscious of the pressure from the screwdriver tightening those screws into my head and of the pain—the incredible pain—not only in my head but also over my entire body. Blood began to ooze out of my scalp and run into my eyes, down across my nose and into my mouth. The more he tightened, the more blood there was. "Ahh, that blood's nothing to worry about," he said. "It's quite normal. It'll stop in a minute or so, just bear with me." What choice did I have?