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"Thumbs-up, by Jove?"
"Thumbs-up, by Jove."
"All right, G Man. Now cough. That's it. Cough."
"It's over, Daddy."
"Not yet, G Man. Big cough this time. Now turn over."
"It's over, Daddy...it's over."
On that Sunday, Boomer completed 29 of 40 pass attempts for 371 yards and two touchdowns in his first game of the season, a 26-20 loss to the Denver Broncos. There were 68,130 people in Giants Stadium, 70 of them in the Boomer Esiason party. Norman sat on the 40.
"I'm sick and tired of losing," Boomer said in the locker room afterward. He was pulling his son's photograph off the locker wall, balling up the tape that had framed it, tucking it back into his bag for the next game. "No one in this locker room should sleep tonight. No one."
He drove home, his mind churning as always. Next Sunday, the Dolphins, at Miami. Two days later the press conference to announce the NFL Properties-sponsored fund-raising campaign to fight cystic fibrosis, then the Good Morning America show with Gunnar on his lap, followed by Regis and Kathie Lee. Goodbye, Baby Sub Rosa. Hello, CF Poster Child. Anything the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation needed, anything Boomer could possibly do, he was going to.
But all the cameras and microphones would go away if the Jets didn't start winning, Boomer knew, and all the radio talk-show listeners would start gnashing their teeth. The clock was ticking, and there were still millions of people who didn't know that scientists were closing in on the cure, that they had pinpointed the gene on the seventh chromosome that caused the disease and had even found a way to manufacture a healthy gene, but until they found a way to get the healthy genes everywhere they needed to go, children by the thousands would continue to die.