Butler said nothing.
"Man, I know you're not talking about any six to eight weeks!"
Boobie was placed on the players' bench beyond the sideline, and his black hightops were slowly untied. The leg was put in a plastic splint filled with ice to help stop the swelling.
"I won't be able to play college football, man," Boobie whispered as the sounds of the game floated over him in the gauzy light. "It's all I ever wanted to do. I want to make it in the pros."
"All I wanted to do," he repeated. "Make it to the pros."
The next day he was examined by a local doctor, who diagnosed the injury as only a sprained ligament, and Boobie returned to the Permian field house with a wide grin on his face. But four days later an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Thurston E. Dean, examined Boobie and felt the injury was severe enough to require arthroscopic surgery. It was done in early September, the day before Permian's season opener against El Paso Austin.
When Dean performed the surgery, he saw that Boobie had severely torn the anterior cruciate ligament as well as cartilage in his left knee. Afterward, Dean gave Boobie two options: immediate reconstructive surgery, which he recommended, or a program of rehabilitation that would allow Boobie to play football with a knee brace but would risk further injury to the knee and, later in life, arthritis. Dean discussed the options with Boobie and L.V., and the Mileses opted for the brace.
Boobie perceived the surgery as a minor setback, that was all. He would be back in no time, just a month or so.
"I can't wait to come back," he said. "Put on that knee brace and fly."
He seemed as confident and carefree as ever, not only in the locker room, where he liked to hold court, but also in the classroom. As long as the big-time colleges kept whispering in his ear through their letters and postcards, there was little for him to worry about.