First, some background...
Let's make this short story brief. I am from Anchorage, Alaska, which is not exactly a fertile hotbed for football fellows. Regardless, my high school was as close to a powerhouse as one can get in Seward's Icebox. I mean, Mark Schlereth played there. Yes, THE Mark Schlereth. As a two-time All State running back, and MVP I thought I was an insect's patella (the bee's knees). Like every dumb, young male my plan was to play in college, and maybe someday I could make it to the NFL. That all changed on a trip to Tacoma.
We flew down to visit family, and while there I had the opportunity to watch, and compare myself to the top running back recruit in the country. Some guy from Lacey, Washington. I sat in the stands, and as JStew destroyed my future with his gorgeous thighs, I knew what a real running back looked like.
This proves, once and for all, that Tacoma really is where dreams go to die.
But let's skip this crap, and get to the real story. Realizing I was not good enough to go to a college for football, I instead chose a school based on education (dumb). I went to Portland State University, because they have a great Pre-Med program, and blah blah blah, we don't care. The spring after my Freshman year, I decided to Walk On, and see what happened.
What happened, was that I became a third string full back for the 2006 season. Which is to say that I practiced Teams a lot, and sat around even more. This took a hefty chunk of my time, but I missed football, and even the Big Sky Conference can be fun. Like when we traveled to Berkeley, to play a Heisman contender.
You may not know this, but California Memorial Stadium is an awesome place to play football. The atmosphere was electric, the fans were loud/high, and it was an afternoon game. It was the first time I had played in a D1 stadium, and I can honestly say it was one of the most exciting days of my life. I think it was also Cesar Chavez night, but that is neither here, nor there.
The game started, and it was hard not to get an erection. With the amount of adrenaline I had coursing through my system, my blood needed somewhere to go! Desean Jackson was so fast! Marshawn Lynch was huge! He took a simple inside run 70 yards for a touchdown. One of their offensive linemen physically ate two of our linebackers. He literally murdered them on the field, roasted them on a spit, and devoured their seared flesh.
Okay, that part was not true, but it could have been. That's essentially how the game went.
In the second quarter, after we had just scored a touchdown (What?! How?!), the assistant to the assistant Teams coach came over to me. "Johnstone, we need you to gun out on the next kickoff". I should have been nervous. I should have needed to puke. I should have thrown my helmet into the stands, shot myself full of Ketorolac, and taken a nap. Instead I put my helmet on, thanked God in Heaven, and walked out onto a D1 field.
I was going to bring down Marshawn Lynch.
The ball was kicked, and I was Simba in the middle of a stampede with no Mufasa to save me. No matter; tackling minotaurs is what I was created to do. I could see Lynch flitting between gaps--target acquired. I lowered the crown of my helmet (!), and turned on my turbo-thrusters.
Marshawn broke in to the open, and suddenly I had a clear path directly towards his knees. It was perfect: nobody blocking me, Lynch wasn't looking my direction, my goal was at my fingertips. I was going to hit him so hard. Jonathan Stewart would feel it. Then Marshawn Lynch turned his black visor towards me. I grinned, because now I had him.
Pain. White. The sun above California Memorial Coliseum. Hypoxia. Black. Oxygen returns. The sun, again. Rory Richards' face above mine. Him lifting me off the field. Stumbling to the sideline.
Watching the film a day later: I was ear-holed by a blocking tight end. I didn't even get within fifteen yards of Marshy-Marsh.
That was, quite literally, the only play I was a part of that year. I thought about trying to play again next season. But Jerry Glanville was our new coach, and everything you've heard about him is true. More than that, football takes up a lot of time, and I had about twenty credits a term I needed to get through.
I followed Lynch's career more closely than the average Seahawks fan. Mostly because I love the way he runs. When he was traded to Seattle, I jubilantly shouted and woke up my then-girlfriend.
Some day I hope to meet him at a charity gala, and he will be all weird and have no idea who I am, but will pretend he remembers. Whatever. I will shake his hand, thank him, and it will be magical. I'll follow him with my eyes, smiling with joy as he turns to hug a small cancer patient.
Then I will light his shit up, and stand over top his broken body.
The name's Johnstone, bitch.