Sunday, October 24, 2010

Week 8 Recap and the story of One Eyed Willy

Another classic weekend of College football viewing with several major upsets and nail biters. The Tailgate viewed several of these in the French Quarter in NOLA while officially on vacation from the rigors of a weekly bloggers life. More on that later. I wanted to take the opportunity to give a proper Shout out to my Father “One Eyed” Willy Donnelly who graced the gridiron back in the heyday of Ivy League football in the late 1930’s. Bill as he was otherwise known, was a Tight End for the Columbia Lions under legendary HOF Coach Lou Little. Back in the day, the schools that would eventually make up the Ivy League along with Army were the SEC of their time. Since my father passed away many years ago when I was the age of 13, I only recall a few of his stories. One in particular is etched into my memory as this self deprecating man regaled me with stories of his youth and glory. As the story was told, Dad was not someone who regularly got his uniform dirty and was cut more from the cloth of a Rudy Rudegar as opposed to a Cam Newton. Dad was most excited on one of those classic gray fall days in the city of New York as Columbia was matched up against one of its powerhouse eastern rivals. You see, his parents had traveled in from West Pittston, PA to finally see one of his games. Now you may be asking where does the nickname “One Eyed Willy” come from? I am not exactly sure of the true facts on this one but my father was blind in one eye. He was either born that way or had it poked out by a stick as a boy. (Later on during WWII he faked his way into the U.S. Army by memorizing the eye charts). Nonetheless, as the Lions took the field that day, Dad could sense this was going to be a special day. And special it was. After the game was well underway Coach Little tapped him on the shoulder pads and said “Donnelly you are going in for this series”. Bill could barely contain his excitement to actually get some turf time and to do so in front of his Rents. Upon reaching the huddle, the QB called a passing play and told Bill to be ready. As the signal caller received the snap, Bill streaked down the field uncovered as the defense elected not to pay attention to this guy whose number was not well recognized. Already stunned to be wide open, shock set in as Bill saw the ball spiraling through the air toward him for what could be a sure touchdown and pigskin glory. As the ball neared, his arms now outstretched with fingers spread to receive the ball, heart racing a mile a minute and adrenaline reaching levels never attained before. The ball hits Bill squarely in the hands…for a brief instant only to bobble back in the air and eventually fall out of his hands and onto the ground for an incomplete pass. Was it his lack of vision, nerves or other factors that caused him to drop the pass? That I will never know. I believe that was the last he touched the turf for that contest as the coach pulled him back to the bench. Dejected to have lost this golden opportunity to impress his parents and to be hoisted into the air by his teammates and celebrated, Dad chalked it up as a life experience of picking yourself back up after you fall down and get yourself ready for the next big opportunity you may face in sports or in life. I share the story for two reasons; it is the only football story I have some recollection of my Dad telling me, and two it is a tribute to my Father and the very human side of athletics where not all glory is gold but still valuable for life lessons. The picture above I believe was taken in 1938 or 39 on the Columbia practice field in NYC. Props to you Pops!
On to the present day and the events of this weekend’s action. Tailgate Tony and myself parked ourselves in a fine little establishment on Royal Street in the French Quarter called Touché as our lady’s shopped the quarter for fine furs and jewels. The bar can best be described as a characters bar full of local color where we spent several sessions throughout the weekend and became honorary locals. If you ever read the book Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil, this bar could have been part of the story save for the fact this is New Orleans and not Savannah. The retired judge, the local celebrity Maître De and the raunchy hooker, the Bar Tendress Donna who took no grief from anyone and our newly found local friends Jerry and Barb who live in the Quarter and told us a story about each character to enter the bar. For those that watched the LSU/ Auburn game it was a close game and very festive watching in a bar full of “Geaux Tiger “ Fans. In the end it was too much Cam Newton that led to the Battling Baton Rougers demise. Auburn is playing as well as anyone in the country at this point in the season. Perhaps the game of the day was the Wisconsin v Iowa game with the Badgers knocking down another highly ranked opponent. In the game that exemplifies why college football is the most exciting spectator sport in the world, Missouri taking down the mighty Sooners with one of the most raucous on field post game celebrations I have ever seen. Other notable matches, Navy sinking the Domers in the new Meadowlands stadium, Cal rebounding with a resounding butt thumping of the Bodacious “Burfects” from Tempe, TCU staying unbeaten by shooting down the Falcons of Air Force.
Gripe of the week – This one is simple. When I ask someone the score of the game because I don’t see small numbers from so far away please give me the score in the proper context or I will call you out as a non football fan and humiliate you and make you cry. What I mean by this is always tell me the high score first with that team on top and where we are in the game. Such as Boise is up 35 – 7 in the 3rd with 6 minutes left. Do not say this; “It is 7 – 35”, leaving me with more questions to ask now such as who the hell is winning, why did you give me the low score first, what Q and how many ticks left! So you readers of this blog I am hoping I have educated those in doubt on how to report a score to me. Saving on football fan at a time.
Next week the Tailgate returns to the backyard tailgate in Danville for Halloween weekend.
Happy Tailgating!