With the Spring Game kicking off in less than 24 hours, it’s about time we dusted the cobwebs off this site.
Did you miss us?
When we left off, hopes were running high that the Huskers would leave Nashville with a victory in the Music City Bowl. That didn’t exactly happen and we’ll just leave it at that.
In the meantime, the Big Red Fury World Headquarters relocated from its Hollywood adjacent location to the hills of Northeast Los Angeles, not far from the Rose Bowl. My wife and I bought a house that included a daggum fort in the backyard. And if that wasn’t enough, it came equipped with a TV, a bar, and a Kegerator.
The previous owner, a retired Naval Aviator built this fort with his bare hands and now that it was in my care, the first order of business was getting it set up as a proper Husker hangout.
Over St. Patrick’s Day weekend I was back in Lincoln for a buddy’s wedding and on a mission to bring home some Husker collectibles.
As the luck would have it, I stumbled into a Husker store in the Haymarket that was so brand new its owner was still getting settled in.
Vintage Red Sports Gallery is nestled into the ground floor in one of the Haymarket’s many new buildings and is the creation of JC Wickstrom. It’s half vintage Husker store, half Husker museum, and 100% incredible.
Wickstrom has been obsessively and methodically collecting Husker memorabilia since he was a kid and his collection in the museum section of his store rivals anything you might see in that stadium across the road. In fact, it was so impressive that I went back for a second look instead of making a pilgrimage to Memorial Stadium before heading to the airport. On both visits, Wickstrom was available to play tour guide and his stories were as fascinating as everything he has on display.
Here are some of the many highlights.
If you ever feel the need to chill among Husker artifacts, Vintage Red Sports Gallery is your spot.
Everywhere you look you’ll see a piece of Husker history. Wickstrom plans to use the museum space to host signings and special events during football season.
The pink #12 jersey was game worn by Bobby Reynolds. According to Wickstrom, an equipment manager kept it as a souvenir and his young son would often wear it when dad was gone. One day, the jersey picked up a little dirt during a backyard football game and the son tossed it in the wash, thinking dad would be none the wiser. Unfortunately, he didn’t account for the possibility of the red numbers bleeding onto the white of the jersey. Whoops. Also, it should be noted that I forgot to ask Wickstrom if the kid survived.
You’re going to need to stop in and ask Wickstrom about how he came into possession of the ORIGINAL Memorial Stadium horseshoe. It was totally legal but still required years of waiting and an Ocean’s Eleven amount of planning to pull it off.
The 1996 Fiesta Bowl case.
NBD. Just Tommie Frazier’s Fiesta Bowl cleats complete with Fiesta Bowl dirt.
Lawrence Phillips’ and Mike Minter’s Fiesta Bowl jerseys.
This case is filled with items Mike Rozier had laying around at his mom’s house. Seriously.
The Turner Gill case. Look close and you’ll see the ‘G’ doesn’t match. Back in the day players got one home jersey and one away jersey and that was it.
This glass from the 1940 Rose Bowl is the only one known to exist.
TO’s Orange Bowl headset. Frankie’s practice jersey.
Ameer Abdullah’s Holiday Bowl uniform.
Yep. Looks legit.
Speaking of bowl games, here are the programs from every Husker bowl game.
When I asked Wickstrom if I could shoot some photos, his only stipulation was that I had to include his all-time favorite player, Derek Brown.
Vintage Red owner JC Wickstrom shows off one of his latest finds.
The retail side of Vintage Red is loaded with one-of-a-kind items.
Sometimes you wonder how you got somewhere. I have a feeling both Tennessee and Nebraska are wondering how they got to the Music City Bowl.
Tennessee was ranked #9 in preseason polls and picked to win the SEC East at SEC Media Days. I think people started to second guess those predictions when Tennessee went into OT in their season opener against App State. They failed to meet those high expectations and finished behind Florida in the SEC East. The Vols finished conference play with a 4-4 record and against top 25 teams they were 2-2.
The Huskers were on the other side of things. Coming off a 2015 season with a record of 6-7, they weren’t ranked or expected to do much at all. At one point this season they were ranked #7 and on a seven game win streak. They played well with the Badgers and lost in OT, which was a heart breaker. The season kind of fell apart due to injuries after that but my point is that they weren’t ever supposed to be ranked #7 at any point. Neither of these teams were supposed to have either of these seasons. Which, I think is why we all love college football.
Now that I have set the scene, let’s let loose and get delusional like only true fans can do.
Nebraska vs. Tennessee is one of those games that I should probably watch at home by myself because I have already talked myself into a Husker win, and talking yourself into that before the game starts usually leads to a bunch of cuss words being yelled at a TV.
Tennessee was pretty banged up earlier in the season but looks to be mostly healed up and their starters are ready to go. The bad news is that the Huskers can’t say the same. Recently the Huskers have lost QB1, an irreplaceable mustached WR, a safety that can’t bother to attend class, a redshirt freshman WR, and a few recruits. I would like to share something with you. You gotta be down to get up. Any seasoned gambler would know this is the part where you say “I’m due.”
And the Huskers are due.
Tennessee is definitely beatable. Everybody thought they were going to bust out some impressive run this year and talked them up until they went into OT with Appetizer State. They were pretty consistent in the first few games with come from behind wins that every gambler will remember, with that Tennessee – Florida game being especially brutal. But, then there is the bad Tennessee who lost to Vanderbilt in their last game. They are kind of like the Huskers in the way that you just don’t know which team is going to show up.
The Tennessee QB, Josh Dobbs, has thrown for 2,655 yards and 26 touchdowns this season. You might think that sounds like trouble when you look at Ryker Fyfe who has thrown for 315 yards and 2 touchdowns. No, no, no. What that tells me is that Ryker is fresh. Josh Dobbs sounds like he is probably tired and worn out. Ryker is just getting going, Dobbs is ready to retire. I like our odds in the QB category.
Jalen Hurd, Tennessee’s best RB got the hell out of there and flat out left the team midway through the season when a game against Nebraska started to look possible. So they don’t even have their best RB. Again, I like that. I would talk about the Tennessee WRs but that would mean that I don’t have any faith in our defense and it’s not called Lockdown U for nothing, folks. So I’m not going to talk about wide receivers that aren’t even going to touch the ball, that would be a waste of my time. I’m also not that concerned about the Tennessee defense considering UK scored 36 on them and then Mizzou scored 37 actual points. And they lost to VANDERBILT. Even Mizzou beat Vanderbilt! That tells me that their defense is actually nonexistent at times.
To be honest, now I’m even more convinced of a 10 win season. Huskers by two touchdowns. #GBR
For real time hot takes from Leslie, follow her on Twitter- @lesmicek
Shortly after it was announced that the Huskers would resume their bowl game dominance over the Tennessee Volunteers in Nashville’s Music City Bowl, the bowl’s official Twitter account revealed which team it’s pulling for in a tweet that boasted not one but four exclamation marks.
But let’s go back to the errant tweet for a closer look.
Aside from the fact that there are “social media professionals” who are as bad at using Twitter as your grandma, the tweet itself contains quite the loaded statement.
“At least my team will be in our Bowl game this year!!! go vols!
Based on the capitalization of ‘Bowl’ and ‘vols’ in lowercase, it’s clear this was a rather hastily composed thought that was sent via Facebook. (Seriously, who still connects their accounts like this?)
Then there’s the juicy bitterness of “At least my team will be in our bowl game…”
If that doesn’t scream college-football-fan-who-had-his-or-her-season-wrecked then I don’t know what does.
Let’s breakdown the hell the Volunteers have put their fans through this season.
After a 5-0 start that featured back-to-back wins over #19 Florida (a 28 point 4th quarter comeback that cost me a five team parlay) and #25 Georgia (a 20 point 4th quarter comeback that ended with a ridiculous Hail Mary) the wheels completely fell off Tennessee’s wagon. Over the next three Saturdays, the Volunteers tumbled from #9 all the way out of the top 25.
First there was a double-overtime loss to #8 Texas A&M (remember when they were ranked?) followed by a 49-10 dismantling by Alabama. This three week stretch of doom was capped with a 24-21 loss to South Carolina. (Does anyone even know who their coach is these days?)
Tennessee picked themselves up off the mat and crawled back into the top 25 thanks to a nice little win streak with victories over SEC softies Kentucky and Mizzou and pulled out a 55-0 squeaker against FCS juggernaut Tennessee Tech.
Then came their season finale against Vanderbilt. The Commodores sailed away with a 45-34 upset victory, just their sixth win over the Volunteers since 1965.
And they play each other every year.
There’s not even a way to put a loss like that into context for the Huskers. If you combined the historical ineptitude of Kansas with our growing hatred for Iowa, you’d only be scratching the surface of what the Tennessee – Vanderbilt rivalry is like. It certainly doesn’t help that Vandy has won three out of the last five games either.
If you go to the Music City Bowl and someone asks if they can take your picture for the Twitter, offer them a hug. There’s a good chance their team has put them through much, much worse than how the Huskers have tortured us this season.
The best part about being your own boss is dictating your own schedule.
A week has passed since the Huskers ended their regular season by getting taken to the woodshed by Iowa and I’m only writing about it now because, quite frankly, I didn’t want to deal with thinking about that damn game.
A season that started with so much hope and promise flat out belly flopped on the Kinnick Stadium turf. (Writing that sentence alone is giving me a serious TUMS craving. Or maybe that’s the box of cereal I had for lunch.)
Out of the Huskers’ three regular season losses, losing to Iowa by far hurt the worst and not just because it was stinkin’ Iowa.
Coming up short in overtime in a winnable game against Wisconsin stung but proved the Huskers were ready to compete with anyone in the Big Ten, for at least a week anyway.
Getting blown out 62-3 by Ohio State seven days later showed there was plenty of room for growth before being able to compete with every Big Ten team but the thing about getting trucked like that is that sometimes it’s just your turn to get eaten by the bear to paraphrase The Stranger from the Big Lebowski.
Losing to Iowa, though, was a whole new level of ugly, like getting farted on during a lap dance in a Council Bluffs strip club kind of ugly.
There was no justifiable reason for the Huskers to have even have been in a situation where that could have happened but everything that could wrong did go wrong, starting with Bad Tommy coming out to play.
Side story time…
My good buddy Marc joined us at our local Husker bar to watch his first ever Nebraska game on purpose. He’s a die-hard USC fan and for the last three years our Dodger season tickets have been a couple rows behind his and his father’s. Marc’s meltdowns are the stuff legend in our section. He let it be known well in advance that he was looking forward to seeing myself and fellow Big Red Fury writer/Dodger fan, Leslie Micek, get heated like he does when the Dodgers blow an 8th inning lead.
Thanks to the Huskers laying an egg from the get go, our level of outward rage didn’t peaked at “disappointed grandpa,” which, if you’ve ever disappointed your grandpa, you know is the worst kind of rage. That I’m-so-mad-I-can’t-even-talk-to-you kind of rage that makes you question your very place on this Earth.
Our lack of conversation gave Marc plenty of time to observe the Huskers. He fit right in too, even yelling “holding” right on cue with everyone else who noticed penalties that the Big Ten refs are seemingly blind to.
Marc’s big observation involved the lack of creativity the Huskers’ offense.
1st down: Get stuffed with a run up the middle.
2nd down: Swing pass to the sideline that goes nowhere.
3rd down: YOLObomb that lands in a green sea of empty turf.
At one point Marc sincerely asked us if Tommy always played like he did against Iowa and how much worse the Huskers backups had to be if they weren’t getting any PT.
After explaining that Tommy was basically playing on one leg and how the holder was the emergency third string quarterback, he simply shook his head in awe that we’re able to saddle up Huskers week in and week out.
It’s what we Husker fans do. Ride or die, ya know.
On to the usual stuff…
Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch Oh how we didn’t miss you, flaming poop emoji.
Honestly, I should have known the Huskers were going to be doomed thanks to the random drunk Jedi. I only wanted Chewbacca in the video but he insisted they worked as a team so I gave him $7 thinking they’d split it like a couple of Hollywood Blvd’s Spider-Men do. When we were done filming, which took exactly as long as the video above, he asked for his cut. I told him I only had a buck left and that’s all I could give him so homeboy had the audacity to pull out a Square credit card reader and had the balls to ask for $20 for his performance.
The last costumed weirdo to pull that move was a Captain Americabefore the Miami game last year and we know how that one turned out.
This one goes out to my brother and his family. We visited them for Christmas last year and the most fascinating thing about Des Moines was that Iowa’s largest city boasted not one but TWO video stores and they were BOTH hiring.
What does an Iowa fan do after winning a national championship?
It seems like the season was just getting started and now the Maryland game is here.
By late afternoon, Memorial Stadium will fall silent. The Sea of Red won’t roar again in Lincoln until 2017.
The final home game of the season marks the very first time the Huskers will be squaring off against the mighty Terrapins. If the Big Red can somehow manage to beat a team that was also edged out by Ohio State 62-3, they will notch their ninth win of the season and finish with a perfect home record for the first time since 2012.
Will it be Tommy Armstrong Jr. who gets to lead the Huskers to victory one last time in front of the home crowd, or will it be Ryker Fyfe who gets to lead the Huskers to victory for the first time?
Since that question probably won’t be answered until kickoff, let’s focus on the week’s important drama for a moment.
What the hell happened to the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy?
It’s a total bummer to see the best trophy game in the Big Ten go away so unceremoniously. The biggest sign of all that it’s donezo is that there has been nary a peep from the Huskers’ Twitter account, which never passes up an opportunity for some sweet meme action. The ignore-it-and-hope-goes-away silence is deafening.
If the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy really is retired, why not at least auction it off and have the proceeds go to charity? That would make Nebraska’s budding rivalry with Minnesota really worth something. (Assuming the trophy hasn’t already been chucked in a dumpster in the dead of night.)
Alright, let’s get back to Maryland.
Look, the Terrapins don’t boast a 5-5 record due to an overabundance of skill. Their players can’t even go on a BB gun rampage without getting arrested. You think those geniuses will be able to contain DPE? Heck no. If the Blackshirts can contain the turtles’ running game, they should be in good shape to get the win even with Larry the Cable Guy taking the snaps.
The Huskers’ game plan on offense should be to let the running backs take care of business and only throw the ball to seniors standing wide open in the end zone. Do you realize Brandon Reilly hasn’t caught a touchdown pass since hauling in the game winner against Michigan State last year? Let’s get him another one at home before he leaves us.
BONUS CONTENT: If you end up sitting next to a Maryland fan, here are some things to know about The Old Line State:
Crab Cakes are basically Maryland’s corn and Runza rolled into one. Do not speak ill of Crab Cakes unless you’re itching to start a fight.
Six Marylands could fit comfortably within Nebraska’s borders. Its wacky shape helps hide the fact that it ranks #42 in land area, coming in just ahead of Hawaii.
On the flip side, Maryland’s population density is nearly 25 times higher than Nebraska’s. To put that into perspective, Nebraska’s population would have to swell to 46 million people to achieve the same density. That might help explain why everyone in The Wire was so angry all the time. There’s no breathing room.
Finally, the state motto of Maryland is “Fatti Maschii, Parole Femine” which literally translates from archaic Italian to mean “Manly Deeds, Womanly Words.” Extra bonus points for you if you can work that into a heckle.
What? You’re not pumped by the fact there’s a reasonable chance that the kid who currently plays holder could end up under center this evening?
Look people, there are two important things to know about this game.
1. No matter what happened this week, it is still gameday. We don’t get many of these a year and after this one there are only three of them left, barring any awful miracle that could lead to the Huskers playing Ohio State again.
2. Minnesota is not to be confused with Wisconsin or Ohio State. Granted, potential disaster is always on the table but there’s no way the Golden Gophers will hang 62 points on the Huskers, so that’s a good thing.
Minnesota comes to Lincoln with an identical 7-2 record, with their losses coming against Penn State (26-29 in OT) and Iowa (7-14, yes, they played all four quarters in that one).
The Gophers notched their big wins of the season against… um… wait a second… uh… nope… they really haven’t beaten a team that’s marginally good.
Then again, their numbers in wins against common opponents with the Huskers are similar enough to raise concern. Try these on for size.
Illinois Huskers 31-16
Purdue Huskers 27-14
Whatever though. This is Minnesota we’re talking about. It’s important to note that both Illinois and Purdue were softened up by the Huskers first. It’s not hard to beat a team when it has already been flogged into demoralizing submission by the Big Red.
While the Big Ten scheduling gods have been mostly nice to Minnesota, this game is where the Gophers start a gauntlet to end their regular season. After Nebraska, Wisconsin and Northwestern are on deck.
Even with Ryker or Zack at the wheel, the Huskers should be able to handle this one. If there was ever a time to turn the running backs loose, it’s tonight. A steady diet of Newby, Ozigbo, and Wilbon plus a touchdown by the Blackshirts should get the Huskers all the points they need to keep the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy in Lincoln for another year. As much of a gamer as he is, there’s no reason for Tommy to risk taking another shot to the head so soon.
Gophers 20 (Don’t laugh. We made this prediction back in August and we’re sticking to it. YOLO.)
What a week it’s been, huh? Between the uncertainty of Tommy’s health and the future direction of this county, it’s a chaotic time to be a Husker fan.
If you’re already starting to dread where this is heading, please, hang in there. Yes, this is going to be a departure from what’s usually found around these parts but there will (hopefully) be a point to all of it.
This is the third season that Big Red Fury has been around. I originally started it on a lark as a way to showcase the ridiculous things Husker fans say on the internet, hence the name. If you enjoy reading the comments section of a hot take more than the hot take itself, this mission statement would have been right in your wheelhouse.
Unfortunately (and for the better) that focus didn’t even make it to the mid-point of the first season. My obsession with our favorite team soon overcame my juvenile desire to anonymously mock those whose opinions and insights I didn’t agree with or thought were dumb.*
This pivot (which nobody noticed because no one was reading this site in the beginning) was the start of something good. Already this season we’re on pace to reach 50,000 page views (dating back to August 1) by the end of the month. That’s a very small drop in the Husker bucket but a solid improvement from all of last season which barely crossed the plane of 30,000 views.
What I want to focus on though are the 228 Husker fans that @BigRed_Fury follows on Twitter. Since it hatched, Twitter has been either a useless distraction or an incredibly useful tool. It all depends on what you make of it.
Of those 228 people, I personally know maybe 50. The rest are folks I’ve gotten to know only through 140 character glimpses.
While the sample size may be be small, those 175 or so Husker fans are a remarkably diverse group of women and men scattered throughout all corners of the US with a few living abroad. In the long days between games and excruciating months between seasons, @BigRed_Fury’s timeline is a window into the daily lives of mostly anonymous strangers. From afar, I’ve sympathized with struggles, celebrated achievements, and developed an appreciation for whichever Kansas City Royal goes by Moose.
For the past few months, and more than ever this week, that same timeline has been an endless stream of political discourse along every inch of the horseshoe. There’s been joy and rage and everything in between. Those same 175 Husker fans are just as diverse politically as they are in the TV shows they tweet about.
But you know what’s really fascinating?
For a few hours a week all that chatter goes absolutely silent.
Not so coincidentally, this phenomenon occurs only when the Huskers are playing.
I expect this trend will continue tomorrow when the Huskers take on Minnesota. During the game, and I swear this is as political as I will ever get on a football site, please take a moment to appreciate how 90,000+ fans can pack into Memorial Stadium every single gameday and rally together to celebrate one thing they all love and hold dear, no matter their personal background or beliefs. If all those Husker fans can have at least one thing in common, there’s a good chance they have a few more too.
The Sea of Red has always meant so much more than everyone got the memo to wear red.
It’s a powerful symbol of spirit and pride that has no peer.
You know how all of us in Husker Nation relish the chance to buy an opposing fan a beer or invite them to join our tailgates?
Take that same attitude apply it someone into your daily life. That Facebook friend you’ve been arguing with all week? Invite them to get coffee. I bet you would have a blast bickering over Starbucks’ new red cups in person.
Each and every one of us are so much more more than the opinions and clickbait articles we share with our social networks. The sooner we remember that, the sooner we’ll feel this country of ours take a step back from the ledge that we’ve been led to believe its standing over.
I don’t have the same opinions as those 175 Husker fans I superficially know through Twitter and the same would certainly apply the other way around. One thing I know for sure though is that I’d love to drink some beers and watch a game with every single one of them.
Because that’s what Husker Nation does on gameday. We have a good time… unless we’re playing Wisconsin or Ohio State.
That is all and Go Big Red.
*ps: While I haven’t felt the need to roast him much this season (thanks, Omaha World-Herald paywall) Dirk may never wiggle off the hook of mockery but it will always be in good fun. Mostly ; )
It’s 13 minutes before the Ohio State game and I am weirdly calm. Mike Riley has even coached me to stay calm and just relax at game time. It’s oddly reassuring. I’m just over here sipping a Budweiser and waiting for the game to begin. The Huskers have a chance to pull this off. My score prediction is 28-21. I think it’s going to be close but the Huskers want this. They know what it feels like to have a failed season and don’t want it to happen again. This Ohio State team doesn’t really know that feeling. Something just tells me that this game is going to go to the good guys. The Huskers. I know this team is beaten up and I’m sure I will be posting my post game reaction and feeling totally different. Like a moron. Because that’s what Husker fans have come to expect. Disappointment. But not tonight. I won’t accept that this season is ending tonight. I can’t.
Tommy threw a pick six on the first drive… might start watching Bama LSU
Ohio State: 21, Nebraska: 3
Actually might start watching Bama LSU
Punt recovered by Nebraska. I see hope. But it might be the beer talking.
It’s been a few minutes since Tommy went down. I’m scared. He is being carted off. He just gave the thumbs up. Who cares about this game at this point, just want him to be OK. Tommy has been the heart and soul of Nebraska for the past few years. He really is the best player on the team just because I never ever see him give up. And that’s all I can ask.
Ryker is in after Tommy is taken to the hospital. Morale is low. Hope is disappearing. I’m running low on beer.
12 seconds into the second half. Touchdown Ohio State. I feel like I’m watching a train wreck. Why am I still watching this?
So Tommy is just running back into the stadium in scrubs right now. The guy is a damn robot. Just happy to see him back.
Ohio State: something over 50, Huskers:3
I’m done with this blog
Tuesday, November 8: 6:20pm
Remember when I thought it was smart to attempt to live blog a Nebraska vs. OSU game? I do. And I’m a delusional idiot.
For real time hot takes from Leslie, follow her on Twitter- @lesmicek
In case you were lucky enough to miss last night’s debacle, here’s a recap of all you need to know.
Where do we even begin? This was such a vicious, unbridled ass kicking it should have come with a trigger warning.
Without subjecting myself to the digital paper cuts of verifying exactly where this loss ranks among historical beat downs, these are the first pummelings that come to mind that no amount of therapy has been able to erase.
Texas Tech, 2004 – Remember how we were tricked into thinking this game could be chalked up to the growing pains of installing the West Coast Offense and not the harbinger of doom that Bill Callahan was a lousy coach?
Colorado, 2001 – The go-to game when it’s time to point to the one that ruined it all.
Miami, 2002 – Proved the previous game wasn’t a fluke.
Miami, 1992 – The shutout that led to a dynasty.
Arizona State, 1996 – The shutout that ended a dynasty.
Missouri, 2008 – Remember how we were tricked into believing that these meltdowns would stop when Bo Pelini had “his” players and not the harbinger of doom that Pelini was a lousy coach?
Wisconsin, 2014 – OK we get it now. Please make it stop.
Laser Tag, 1987 – Out of all the savage and merciless beat downs I’ve ever endured, this one hits the closest to home and is the most analogous to what transpired last night in Columbus. This one bubbled up while listening to Big Red Overreaction on the way home. Thanks, Damon Benning.
Buckle up, kids. It’s story time.
The scene, Grand Island, NE. 1987. Fifth grade. The martial arts fad inspired by the Karate Kid had finally died out and what had been a downtown dojo was transformed into a futuristic Laser Tag arena. No longer would we be subjected to playing in dingy basements. (Playgrounds and parks were off-limits after a kid in California was shot by a police officer who thought he had a real gun.) We finally had a real Laser Tag arena that was worthy of the booming metropolis that was Nebraska’s third largest city.
My friends and I played there every chance we could. The arena boasted pro-level equipment, a maze of unfinished plywood, and more black lights than an above average bong store.
It wasn’t long before the management invited us to join a league that was forming. We knew right away that this was destined to be our first step on the path towards becoming professional Laser Tag players. There was no professional league yet but there would be. Laser Tag was the sport of the future and we weren’t going to waste this opportunity.
In the two weeks leading up to our first match, we put ourselves though boot camp. We had conditioning workouts at recess and strategy sessions after school. Down in our basement we built a replica of the arena out of refrigerator boxes that we dragged home from an appliance store so we could practice close quarters combat in secret. We were so driven and obsessed we should have planned a bank robbery instead. We probably would have gotten away with it.
Our debut match was on a school night which made it that much more special. After enduring the longest day ever, my mom dropped the four of us Lazer Boltz (the still crummy team name I had to think up on the spot when we signed up for the league) off outside the arena.
We were still on the curb when our competition pulled up.
In their own cars.
Not only were they high school kids, they were the kind of of long haired metal heads you avoided at the pool and ran from at the mall. The deep end and arcade was their turf and we were grateful to be occasional guests.
Now we were about to be locked in a pitch black room with them and would be trapped in there until victors emerged.
Still, we liked our chances. While these kids were busy smoking cigarettes and listening to records backwards, we were training. In an egalitarian and utopian sport such as Laser Tag, it didn’t matter that we were each outweighed by 100lbs.
Until it did matter.
The Lazer Boltz started out strong but we were soon over matched when our foes realized that no referee in the arena meant that an abstract concept such as “rules” didn’t need to exist. They systematically chased us down like a pack of raptors and wrestled us into full nelsons and executed us at point blank range.
The yellow belt I earned in that very room six months earlier would prove to be no match for brute size and strength but at least I knew how to take a punch.
The Lazer Boltz disbanded after our first and only match. My mom flew off the handle on the guy who ran the place when she returned to find a quartet of sniveling kids on the curb. Turned out we were the only actual children in the league and were invited to only to help boost the numbers.
None of us ever returned. The arena went out of business a few months later.
By this point, Husker Nation should know how to take a gut punch and roll with it. A team can practice hard and do everything right but sometimes it’s going to walk into a buzz saw from which there will be no escape. All you can do is take your lumps, move on, and get better.
Last night, Ohio State was that buzz saw and the Huskers were humiliated on the national stage. It’s wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last time. Shit happens and sometimes that shit is a scoreboard that reads 62-3.
In my preview of the game, I said that Tommy Armstrong Jr. could cement his legacy at Nebraska by leading the Huskers to victory. Instead, he cemented it by walking back onto the field in medical scrubs 58 minutes after he was strapped to a spinal board and taken to the hospital with his future hanging in the balance. In a night marked by defeat, this was the bigger victory.