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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The Wolverines' bus pulls up to Gateway Tech. Every Vashon game is an away game. The Wolverines have no home field. To practice they change into football gear at a rec center with no real locker room and then walk to a public park and run their plays on a field without lines where their coach is sometimes interrupted by the crack of gunfire.
The team huddles around Jerry. He is its most versatile weapon: defensive end, blocking tight end, long snapper, tackler on kickoffs, occasional kicker. He bounces up and down as his teammates chant in unison.
What we gonna do, Jerry Brown?
We gonna block, we gonna tackle, we gonna hit, we gonna win!
They do. Jerry is nearly unblockable. He and the other defenders sack Gateway's quarterback three times and force three interceptions. The Wolverines take a comfortable lead into the second half. And then Jerry the blocking tight end runs a Seven Route, a post corner, and his friend Reggie Cross sees him open. Jerry catches the ball and runs for a touchdown, still wearing his lineman's gloves.
September 2--3, 2006
At Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill., the Fighting Illini open their season with a 42--17 win over Eastern Illinois. Jerry Brown watches from the sideline. Heavily recruited in high school, Jerry chose Illinois because it's close to St. Louis—and because he expected major playing time as a freshman. But according to his mother, a strange thing happened when he left for college. He started at 282 pounds and quickly fell past his target weight of 270, down to 245. Although a bounty of good food was available at the training table, it wasn't like his mother's cooking. He couldn't put the weight back on, and the coaches redshirted him. He will not play a down this year.
Sometime tonight, 2,000 miles to the southwest, Chargers linebacker Steve Foley goes out to a nightclub in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. Around 3 a.m., Foley fires up his vintage Oldsmobile Cutlass and goes careering up Route 163 with a blood-alcohol level nearly triple the threshold for impairment. He is spotted by Aaron Mansker, who drives a black Mazda and wears jeans and a white T-shirt. Ten years ago, when Mansker was 13, his father was killed by a drunken driver. Now Mansker is a police officer who watches for drunken drivers even when he's off the clock. As Foley weaves through traffic, going as fast as 90 mph, Mansker follows. At a cul-de-sac near Foley's home, the linebacker gets out of the Cutlass and confronts Mansker, who identifies himself as a police officer but does not show his badge. When Foley advances on him, Mansker fires a warning shot. Foley reaches for his waistband, although he will prove to have been unarmed. Mansker shoots him in the knee and hip, ending his football career. Foley will win a $5.5 million civil settlement for the incident, but his limp will remain after 12 surgeries.
October 6, 2007
With a 14-game winning streak and a No. 5 national ranking, the Wisconsin Badgers visit Memorial Stadium on a sweltering afternoon. The Illini finished 2--10 last year, worst in the Big Ten, but this year head coach Ron Zook has one of the nation's best recruiting classes. Football observers are astonished by his salesmanship. Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin all wanted Josh Brent, a 320-pound defensive tackle from Bloomington, Ill., but Zook sold Brent on Illinois, where he now plays alongside Jerry Brown.