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There are moments in sports that linger in your memory. Sometimes it is just the magnitude of the moment. For example, Cory Schlesinger rumbling, tumbling into the end zone to put Nebraska ahead of Miami in the Orange Bowl and Tom Osborne on the verge of his first National Championship. When the game was over, I shed tears of joy, the only time I can remember crying from happiness. It had been so long a road. There was so much that lead up to that moment.
The moment moved me. It was an enormous moment for all of us because of the enormity of the situation. The magnitude made the moment memorable. It still lingers.
I’ve been thinking a great deal since Saturday about memories, and moments, and being moved by them. Movies do it so well. Images, playing out in slow motion, the swelling of inspiring music, the faces of winners and losers. It’s cinematic magic. It feels real.
It’s Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford in “The Natural”) hitting the lights, running the bases as the sparks rain down around him and Roy, somehow magically, he appears to be part of the cosmos. It’s acceptable for grown men to be moved to tears by the moment.
It’s the end of a journey.
How about “Brian’s Song?” The original version please. A journey for both Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo. Grown men can still cry thinking about it. I know.
Jimmy Chitwood’s final shot. Movies do it so well.
I didn’t cry Saturday night, but I could have. It was the end of a journey too. I wonder whose journey it really was, Tommy Armstrong’s or the fans? I won’t replay the scene. We all know the four year plot of this one. Good Tommy and Bad Tommy. Love one and hate the other, and then, in the space of a week, we finally see our moment that lingers.
Will Tommy even play? Yes, he will start. How will he play? Will he run the ball or just hand off and occasionally throw? He goes down. Will he get back up? At least it’s not another concussion. The crowd now chants “Tommy, Tommy, Tommy.” But that’s not the moment. Not yet. He comes back in again, leads the game winning drive, runs the ball in for the game winner, and gets carried off the field by Jerald Foster and Tanner Farmer. That’s the moment.
That’s the end of the journey.
There are games still to be played. Never mind. Bring up the music and roll the credits. Let the grown men shed a tear if they want to, for finally, Tommy Armstrong will be embraced for who he is.
He won’t be remembered as the greatest Nebraska quarterback ever. Or the most talented.
But he should be remembered as the toughest. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. He made the journey, took the punishment and the blaming, and never complained. And now he has his Roy Hobbs, his Jimmy Chitwood moment. Strike up the band. Roll out all the credit that is due to Tommy Armstrong, Jr. He, at the end of a long and troubled journey, has given me a moment that will always linger.
I was lucky enough to be there. I am grateful. I hope we all are.
Those single moments are so rare, and thank God they are.