There was a play last year that I will always remember.
It was the Minnesota game
. Our family had decided to see this one in person, as it wasn't too far away. Good choice, as it turned out: a rare win. One reason I will remember it: my little daughter, barely old enough to understand what was going on around her, was offered a Golden Gopher necklace by some nice old Minnesota fan. The girl wouldn't touch the thing. "Wrong colors!" she yelled at the befuddled old dude. My heart swelled.
The game went about as well as a game could go last year. The offense was moving the ball, chewing up yardage with one long run after the other. The defense looked competent, aggressive, even good (a new twist for the year: a good defense!). On the day the team would rack up over 400 yards of offense. We celebrated loudly with all the other Michigan fans tucked away in the corner of the Metrodome. That's another thing I'll remember: the camaraderie of the Wolverine fans. Even in that down year (perhaps because of that down year?), there was a palpable sense of togetherness. One guy even complimented my ratty old M hat, weather-worn and falling apart from too many years of outdoor usage. "Awesome hat," he said. I was pretty sure he wasn't being facetious.
There was a single play that stood out for me to this day. In this season full of mediocrity, what I saw filled me with a kind of hope, perhaps not for now, but for the future. It was on one of the longest runs of the day, by Minor (I actually don't even recall, it may have been Shaw). As he sprinted downfield and all eyes were on him, somehow I found myself watching what the other players were doing during this small miracle of a play.
My eyes came to rest on Martavious Odoms. 5' 8" if that, all of 170 lbs. But here was this little man, sprinting downfield, actually ahead
of the play, blocking one Gopher after the other, creating more room, hustling, working, trying
. In this miserable season, in this one exception of a game, here was a player who was putting all of himself out there, who at least for that one singular moment exemplified what Michigan football was trying to become. In a year, for him, that was mired by fumble after fumble, loss upon loss, along came something that I had been looking for the entire year.
A Michigan Man.
Go Martavious, and Go Blue.
p.s. that video
is goddamn awesome.