Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I saw tail lights last night in a dream about my first wife

I have three videos of Kevin Grady playing football for East Grand Rapids that I’m pretty sure I stole from a few years ago. He was too heavy and ran with short strides, almost clumsy but more so just impulsive and unrestrained, and there was an anxious struggle to reach top speed and an inconsistent flailing of his arms to keep balance. Sometimes it looked peculiar and not terribly imposing, but I always found something charmingly juvenile about it, like a math savant who still had to count on his fingers.

He usually sounded shy but decisive and polite in his interviews, and I saw this picture of him once where he was showing the camera how his bicep was as thick as his lady friend’s thigh. I thought it was pretty amusing. Grady has either been a colossal disappointment, or extremely unlucky, depending on what kind of person you are. Out of high school he was rated higher than both Rashard Mendenhall and Darren McFadden, and committed to Michigan on September 7, 2003 – a time at which their future running back situation could be gently described as “a desolate abyss.” The Messiah emerged about a year later, and that was, for the most part, the last we heard of Kevin Grady. Well, he fumbled often and ran timidly when he did play, and he tore his ACL last April and didn’t play a down all season.

Needless to say, Grady was always one of my favorite players – even before he became a hardened, jaded soul in search of redemption. He’d earned his chance, and with Mike gone and Rodriguez praising his work ethic, it seemed like he was going to get it. Instead, he was arrested one week ago for driving drunk, and has been suspended indefinitely. If Grady isn’t a ghost already, he’s dangerously close to becoming one; the other running backs empathize with him, but they have the same ambiguous, fleeting legacies that he has.

Brandon Minor runs too upright but is ferocious, borderline psychotic and faster than he’s ever been; I once heard a story where Carlos Brown was wandering around a residence hall on move-in day and just started helping a stranger carry bottled water to her son’s dorm; Sam McGuffie is a cybernetic organism obsessed with fitness and responded to a Myspace heckler with a bible passage; Michael Shaw speaks his mind, and on the field is playfully unhinged without any trace of self-doubt. These are more than tolerable alternatives -- they're replacements.

Outside of our hearts, everyone is expendable.


Blogger Jeremy said...

A fitting eulogy and eloquent as ever, Johnny. However, I think you meant to say he committed in September 2004 (being a member of the incoming class in fall 2005). Besides, in September 2003, we were running solidly behind Heisman finalist Chris Perry. You're right that September 2004 was the David Underwood/Pierre Rembert(?)/oh god someone carry the ball nightmare.

5:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope he can stay on the team and am thankful he didn't hurt anyone, including himself.

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, he committed in 2003. He was a fall 2005 freshman, but he was one of those super early commits, and enrolled in January of 2005, just over a year after he committed.

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, never saw his highschool video before, he really hasn't changed much, I didn't realize he was always short and fat.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Dex said...

Well said. You are what I wish I could be.

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

then maybe you should drop the stalinist bit.

3:19 AM  

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