I always try to have my own little private theme song for a game and listen to it on my Walkman. For the first two games this year—you know, B.S., Before Strike—I played You Are a Winner by Earth, Wind & Fire. Today I kept the group but switched songs to Back on the Road Again. That struck me as especially appropriate, but the fact is that nothing today seemed again, nothing was like any other experience I've ever had in football. I was even the most quiet I've ever been before a game. I was concentrating so. This was really catch-up ball we were all playing—trying to make up eight weeks in four days. It didn't even seem like the fans were on today. Their timing was off too.
We got whipped 26-7, and I can't pretty that up any. Except for our one touchdown drive in the second quarter, when we went ahead 7-6, we played terribly. The only consolation is that there's no in-between in football. It doesn't feel any better to play well and lose than to play rotten and lose.
And yet it was odd. We sacked the Packer quarterbacks eight times. How often does a team get more sacks than points? And except for two plays we might even have won. With a couple minutes left in the first half we still had them 7-6, and they were facing a third and long long—22—on their own 30. But Lynn Dickey hit Eddie Lee Ivery, their running back, coming over the middle, and he staggered through a whole posse of our guys over on the far sideline, cut back and went 62 yards before he ran out of gas. Then, a couple plays later he scored on a deflected pass from Dickey.
Still, we were only down six when the second half started, and we were getting the ball, but on the kickoff, Mo Harvey stripped the ball away from Sam Harrell. It popped up in the air and Harvey grabbed it and sauntered into the end zone. 19-6. It's a funny thing in football, but often it's how a team scores that breaks your heart. If we had punted to the Packers and then they had marched down the field in a normal manner and scored on a six-minute drive, that wouldn't have affected us nearly so much, even though it would still have been 19-6 and we'd have had even less time to catch up. But this way, it was cruel, and the instant Harvey scored you could feel the air go out of our balloon. In the whole second half, we made only four first downs and gained 67 yards.
I caught five balls in the game for 68 yards, which sounds good, but I can't kid you. I missed two catches, trying to run before I caught the ball. I never once got tired out there today. Nobody got hurt from the layoff, either. I took one tough shot, too, when McCoy knocked me sprawling into some boards that had been laid down a few feet outside the sidelines. Scraped up my back. Scared the hell out of Mike. For a long time after that, he kept saying, "Hey, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to knock you into those boards." If I hadn't been in shape, I would've gotten hurt then.
But I—everybody—was out of mental shape. You know how I would characterize it? It was like an actor who has to go on stage while he's still learning his role. No matter how good an actor may be, before he has his lines down second-nature, he can't act fluidly, instinctively. Today, all of us were still trying to memorize our lines, so we couldn't play naturally. Our minds got in the way.
When I get back to Minneapolis, I'm going to talk to our owner, Max Winter, and tell him that I'm going to call it quits at the end of the season. Knowing I'll be hanging it up will give me a boost in the rest of our games. I don't want anyone to think my decision has anything to do with how we did today. I just know it's time for me to go on to other things.