Sunday, November 23, 2008

Little Wing

His sentences came abruptly to an end and he bit the inside of his cheek every now and then. There was no anger or inextinguishable rage, just a bluntness he was probably too weary to avoid. There was no attempt to placate anyone. Here is your quote, now let me get the hell out of here.

“I spoke when I played with bruised ribs, a bruised shoulder, and a wrist that needed surgery. That told you I was tired of living beside the memory of someone who no longer exists. And that I knew there was a cause bigger than my own, no matter how impossible you think it is to find when you’ve lost nine games. I spoke when I carried the ball six times in a row and tore my limbs away from tacklers like someone was trying kidnap me and I just wanted to survive. That told you I was stubborn and brave and probably a little insane. And I speak when you see me on the sidelines, sitting on the backrest of the bench rather than the bench itself. That told you there are some of these men that I am above, and that I know what belongs to me. I know what I have earned.”

Brandon Minor didn’t really say that. He didn’t have to. There are other ways to tell us that you have arrived.

His cuts are rough and imprecise, and he throws his body around with a selfless, uncommon audacity. “I wish I could be more graceful, but I’m running behind a center Notre Dame didn’t want, a guy with a dislocated elbow, a former defensive lineman, and a rotation of others. It’s second and forever and no one believes we’d pass right now anyway. I don’t have time for precise. Maybe I can handle it myself.” That’s what he tells me. And I love him for it.

This is what he really said after the game: “It’s like some people don’t even believe in themselves when they step on the field. You know it’s just…when you step on the field you gotta’ believe that you the best player on the field, like can’t nobody mess with you. That’s how I take the approach on the field, you know I don’t care who I’m going up against.”

Michigan didn’t beat Ohio State, but most of us already knew they weren’t going to a few weeks ago. There was only the blind faith that “something had to go right,” the same way there was the day after Bo died. But sports show no mercy. Ohio State is radically better than Michigan is, and at least for now, there are more important matters. It’s alright to admit that; it’s part of what makes the revival so satisfying. But I can’t be angry. Peasants don’t challenge the king to a duel, they can only stand and throw rotten fruit at his throne.

I’m not sad or even discouraged. In a season spent agonizing over the loss of the players who meant the most to me, I see vague traces of new ones. I see it in Minor, Feagin, Fitzgerald Touissaint, Shavodrick Beaver’s loyalty, Darryl Stonum’s repentance, and maybe I’m forcing this all because I can’t handle another season I feel so excruciatingly indifferent about, but watching Minor Saturday made me believe that some of it is real. Five consecutive losses to Ohio State might seem paralyzing, but for better or worse, we are Michigan fans. Our hearts are calloused and immune to this. Michigan hasn’t been good for a while; I am used to the losses. I try to tell myself that.

In 2003, I watched Michigan lose to Iowa 30-27 in the basement of some house I’d never been to before. The house was cluttered but quaint and rustic in a way a cabin in Vermont might be -- it had a lot of mahogany furniture, and I think there was a coffee table made out of an old tree trunk. I watched the game on a large and absurdly out of place flat screen T.V, and when Michigan was leading by enough, I went outside to play football. When I was done, I came inside and saw that Michigan had already lost.

When they lost to Northwestern 54-51 in 2000 I was at a restaurant for my grandma’s birthday. Next to the kitchen there was a payphone inside a small alcove in the wall, and there was a wooden door on it like a saloon from the 1860's. I remember I kept having to ask my mom for change so I could call home and ask my dad what the score was. Anthony Thomas ran for 200 yards that day, and both David Terrell and Marquise Walker had 100 yards receiving. But Michigan still lost.

Earlier that year they lost to Purdue 32-31, after they’d led by 18 points on two different occasions. I was watching it in a pizza parlor on a 14 inch T.V. that was on top of a refrigerator, surrounded by cardboard boxes and empty soda cans. I had slept over a friend’s house the night before, and he didn’t have cable. I remember Anthony Thomas ran for a long touchdown and the game seemed secure enough that we could walk back to his house. I know Michigan better now; things are rarely secure enough.

You want me to write that Michigan will be back, defiantly, and to forget how truly bad they were this season. It would be poetic, and nothing is going to happen over the next nine months to prove that they won’t be. I rely on Michigan for more than is probably healthy or wise, and on some level, I need them to come back. I don’t know if they will, if they’ll stop losing and constantly pounding our hopes into dust -- whether it's with Lloyd, or Rodriguez. But I do know that I can wait.

I’ve been here before.


Blogger Reed said...

I was thinking about this earlier, Johnny. That this decline certainly had been coming for a while, no matter how 2006 went. But it was hard to tell... The other day, I wrote that Michigan isn't Michigan anymore. Maybe we will be eventually. I dunno. I don't know what to think. Actually, I think I have to wait until next year, and even then I won't know. I'm not quitting, but there are going to be more hard times. Just trying to build up my resistance to depression I guess.

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Guest said...

This is BULLSHIT and you are a LOSER and dead to me and GO FUCK YOURSELF because being a fan requires blind unequivocal faith and you are not worthy of being a Michigan fan and we tell you what is and is not appropriate to write and this is not appropriate.

Wolverine Liberation Army (we're the awesomest!!!)

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guest - were you able to come up with that on your own ? or did that require a team effort.. dick-head

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooo, neato. I think your "guest" is trying to fabricate a fight. I bet dex, chitown, ShockFX, bgh, MRG and the others will love this post as much as I did.
Welcome back. We kept your seat warm.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Dex said...

good try though anon

it's nice to see the faith stirring once more. pull up a chair and stay a while, it will be a fun ride.

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

I would complement your post, but first I need permission from WLA.
The negative tone risks disapproval. You can understand.

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

p.s. I think RBUAS needs a new banner.

11:43 AM  
Blogger cfaller96 said...

Glad to see you waking up to the new Michigan, Johnny.

12:49 PM  
Blogger chitownblue said...

For the record, I liked this post as well.

1:08 PM  
Anonymous ShockFX said...

Cosigned on liking this post.

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy crap look at laurinaitis grabbing his facemask. curse those OSU lcheaters, shysters, and no-good inbreds.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

Wonderful work Johnny and you have no idea how much I wanted to write Coach Rod with Brandon Minor's quote and say "Here is your captain, let him lead the charge. He is ready to die for the flag, he is ready to die for you. Let him be the new leader of your best."

We don't know when, but I suspect the return begins in Brandon Minor's watch, just because he will refuse to accept any other outcome if he is in charge.

5:53 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

I loved it Johnny. These are tough times, but they won't last forever. This will only make winning that much sweeter.

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post.

don't forget about odoms. he is a beast and works harder than anyone.

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who gives a crap who signs and cosigns liking this post?

keep up the good work johnny. You see Michigan football from a different and more intimate perspective than others, and I enjoy reading your posts.

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

eh, you really need to just grow up. lloyd is gone, big deal. we arent a pro-style offense anymore, who cares. a true fan would just accept it and move on, but you have just sulked and cried about how much you miss henne and hart and blah blah blah. "but im not familiar with these players, waaahhhhh"....please. you should of just got behind this team and cheered them on as same as any other team we've run out onto the field.

2:37 AM  
Blogger phillip said...

Johnny - I get the feeling that Will Campbell is going to provide some nice fodder for this blog. Take it easy and keep up the good work. I always check the site hoping for a new post.

11:57 AM  
Blogger greatnessKITTAYofu said...

great stuff, great imagined minor quote

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for keeping this shit updated.

3:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Johnny, here's hoping to have your voice back with us this season, whether it's dejected or optimistic. As long as it's the truth.

Forget the dimwits.

1:30 AM  
Anonymous brad said...

Hey Johnny, maybe last year hit you harder than most. That makes sense. Anyway, I am looking forward to your return soon. The M experience is better with you than without you.

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bravo man

6:03 AM  
Anonymous bookie software said...

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11:12 PM  

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