As Dayne Crist's last second pass to the end zone sailed high above the outstretched hands of everyone and into the third row, I slumped over against the wall and started repeating that phrase. My nerves were wrecked. I needed something to calm myself. Whiskey would have to do.
I had spent the last three and a half hours nervously watching the game, pacing around the apartment, and yelling so loud at the TV that my roommate gave up sleeping in the next room and decided to join me in the livingroom. All the better to watch the spectacle of a college football fan driven mad by the frustration of playing Notre Dame at Notre Dame, where anything could go wrong at any time. I worried aloud during the first half as the offense failed to capitalize on the mistakes of Crist's replacements. I sent frantic text messages to friends who were also watching the game, and followed the box score online looking for any signs of hope in the numbers. I found very little encouragement not preceded by the name: Robinson. When Crist came back in the second half I lost all hope and optimism. A blown coverage on his second play back was all I needed to sink deep into my chair and wish for a quick end. I am hopelessly fatalistic when it comes to Michigan football, and I hate myself for it.
Yet the team hung around. The defense made enough plays to hold Notre Dame off. It looked like we might escape South Bend after all. Then all hell broke loose. Crist connected with Rudolph on a deep seam route that was horribly misread by Cam Gordon. And I collapsed again. Isn't this how it always happens against Notre Dame?
The rest, they say, is history. Denard Robinson picked the team up off the mat and put together the first scoring drive in almost thirty minutes of game time. He was quick, efficient, and focused as the team slowly marched forward for the kill shot. Once he hit Roundtree between the numbers on 3rd and 5 I knew it was all over. Denard wasn't going to let this team lose.
I have had quite a few alcohol related hangovers in my life, but only a few emotional hangovers, times when I have invested myself so thoroughly in something that the conclusion of it leaves me feeling physically and emotionally drained. The two worst emotional hangovers of my life have followed breakups, but rounding out the top five is all Michigan football.
|Nobody stood in the Wolverines way until The Game.|
Michigan games have always had a great affect on me. I have had many Saturdays ruined with a loss, and many salvaged with an improbable comeback. Saturday's game, however, just left me tired.
And tired is exactly where I am today. I spent all Sunday watching NFL games with my laptop open in front of me, trying in vain to find the words to start my reaction to what happened Saturday, but ultimately crushed under the weight of the game as an experience. Only looking back on it today do I realize that I have wrapped myself too tightly into this season, perched myself on the ledge to live or die with this team. It is a foolish luxury that only a fan can afford. I don't stand on that field each Saturday. I don't put my body and health on the line. I have never even met these players, probably never will. Still I feel some deep attachment to the games, so deep that the ups and downs of an exciting football game can render me utterly worthless for a day and a half. What a country, eh? Everything else is so easy that I can choose to wholly invest myself in a football team.
In the end, the words I searched for on Sunday don't exist. The experience of the game
But that doesn't mean I won't be just as anxious and excitable next Saturday.
|The only other player who has ever made me believe|
anything was possible on every snap.
Denard Robinson might not match the robot like consistency of Chad Henne. He may struggle later in the year as defenses begin to devise new ways to attack him. He may even wear down under the burden of 20-30 carries a game. But as long as we have Denard Robinson lining up in the backfield, I will have a hard time keeping my expectations in check. I don't want to be realistic anymore. I want to be a kid again, and watch football with the sense of awe and wonderment that I had as a ten year old. Every bit of reason tells me that we can't possibly expect so much from an undersized sophomore quarterback on his third start.
Denard Robinson doesn't care what logic and reason dictate. He is just going to keep doing what he does, scoring jaw-dropping touchdowns, breaking records, being a leader for this team, and grinning the whole time.