On the eve of Bulls/Eagles tonight, I'm reminded of a moment in time which could have altered my life. It was 1978. I was a Junior in high school and a bad football player on a very good Bridgeport team. We were 8-1 with the first chance to beat Decatur for the first time in several years.
But in the fourth quarter, a key field goal attempt came up for Bridgeport. One of the few rolls I had was to block on the field goal team. I ran out onto the field and took my position. I looked over my shoulder and noticed the guy who was to play exactly opposite me on the right side was missing! This would give a Decatur player a clear shot to block the field goal.
Here's the setup:
So what does my razor quick mind do? Do I call timeout? Heck, no. I'm a Junior and I didn't have the guts to do that. Do I yell at our quarterback who was on the field as the placeholder so that he could decide to call a timeout? Nope. Never crossed my.
My plan, that was created in probably 10 seconds, was to block my guy and then streak across behind our offensive line and block the Decatur player that would be charging in. This is what I saw in my mind.
That, my friends, is the dumbest idea ever. First, I could never get there in time. Secondly, I might have wanted to consider that I'd be placing myself directly in the path of travel of the football as it comes off the kicker's foot! Yep, there is a great chance I'd block our own team's kick.
So what happened? I remember hitting my guy and turning to run to the right. As I got about halfway I simultaneously heard the whistle blow AND the ball come whizzing by my head. For the first time it dawned on me the disaster my plan could have caused, and I almost went into shock. I can't remember why the whistle blew - I don't know if our coach called a timeout or if there was a flag - but we got to kick again with all 11 guys on the field. This time our kicker made the kick. A kick that ended up being critical in a 41-40 Bridgeport win.
But I always play "what if" in my mind. What if there had been no whistle and that ball had ricocheted off my head and I had single handedly lost the game for Bridgeport? It, without a doubt, would have been the most famous screw up in Bridgeport High School history, and I would forever be know as "the guy that blocked his own team's kick."
Fate saved me. Fate kept me from having to move out of state.