1928 - Alderson High School - 1968



Fame: Widespread and illustrious
reputation: renown.
Dan Duff

Fame is an illusive thing.  They say we all have our fifteen minutes of fame somewhere between the cradle and the grave.  Some may have it sometime before or after those natural parameters.  Some may even fight to try to get their moments and others will fight to keep from getting the spotlight revealing their minutes of glory.   

We are in the midst of the fall football wars and there are teams and players who are having their brief time in the spotlight.  Several teams are screaming that they deserve to be call the best.  A lot of players are trying to become the next Heissman, Outland, or Butkus award winners.  Don’t worry,  right now it is just talk to help cover the endless hours of talking heads to fill up the time they put into their daily sports blather.  In the end in January, it will all come down to two teams and  a few players, probably without too much fanfare, because it always works out where the two top teams play for the title. (Now watch them make a liar out of me.) The cream of the yearly crop of players will rise to the top and the awards will be given to the right guy. 

I look back now on my football career such as it was and find that I had a chance to have my fifteen minutes. The year was 1956.  As it was in those days, summer came and went very quickly and then came the day in mid August when we reported to the school for the opening of football practice.  We always had twenty five or thirty boys there for the first day. Coach would call you in by your preseason ranking and be fitted up for a uniform. By the time it was my turn which was somewhere toward the end it was fit as best you can and to be sure they were always four sizes too large, including the shoes.  By the time school took up classes two weeks later there were maybe twenty left.  Out of that twenty Coach knew who he wanted for the first team.  The rest of us became blocking fodder for practice.  I was in the blocking fodder class of players.  One because I weighed about one hundred and seventeen pounds soaking wet with dumbbell weights under my shoulder pads. Second I never was all that good.  Maybe about here I should throw in a lot of  my
many good qualities as a player, but I must speak the truth of the matter. 

We had some good players on the first team and very few back ups in case of injury.  In those days out team ran a single-wing formation and players played both offense and defense.  There was no quarterback.  The ball was snapped directly to the fullback or the tailback and they ran the ball to whatever the direction the play called for.  In those days the tailback threw the ball on a pass play, but there were very few passes thrown and not a lot of time spent on routes and such. The same went  for the defense.  We only had one coach and most of the time was spent  getting the offense ready for the Friday night game and on defense you just did the best you could to stop the ball carrier of the other team.   

If you practiced all week, whether you were any good or not, coach would put pads and a clean uniform on you and let you watch the game from the bench.  Only if the team was ahead twenty or more points would you get a chance to play.  A few times I was put into the game as a defensive back.  This was usually in the final minutes and there wasn’t anything going to happen in the waning moments that would cause me to make a difference in the outcome of the game.  I was happy just to be chosen for those few moments of playtime.   

My moment for football fame came in the final minute of a game that was well into our hands.  Coach cleared the bench and put all the blocking fodder into the game to run out the clock.  I was sent in as a fullback and lucky for me they had left the tailback in the game who called a play to go up the middle just to kill some time.  Since I had never played in the offensive backfield, I asked, “Who gets the ball?”  To my surprise, someone answered, “you do!” 

We lined up on our own 35 yard line and I was scared to death.  I was scared because I was going to get the ball.  This meant that eleven guys on the other side was going to do their best not only to separate me from the ball, but also try to separate as many bones in my body as was possible. 

The ball was snapped and I ran just to the right of center.  To my amazement, those guys had opened a hole big enough to drive a semi truck through.  I saw daylight to the left and headed in that direction. One of my teammates had taken out two defenders at one time.  I was soon to mid field and even looked over to see coach chewing on his match stick.  All at once it hit me.  Hey, I was running for a touchdown.  But wait,  I saw a blur coming up on the right,  I was at the twenty, then the fifteen, the ten, I can see the chalk line indicating the goal line.  Here I go for the touchdown.  Then all of a sudden that blur becomes a huge football monster crashing  into my right side and I went to the ground. Getting up I looked down to find myself  just a couple of yards short of the goal line. That's OK I said to myself.  I’ll get it on the next play.  Then I remembered the gun had fired as I was racing down the sideline ending the game.  

I had come so close, yet as far as fame was concerned, it might as well been fifty  yards short instead of two.  I would not bask in touchdown glory.  I would not collect any accolades as I entered the locker room.  Only in my own mind would I grasp each moment of that play and carry it with me the rest of my life. 

So, which is better, the fifteen minutes I never got from the world or the one minute I achieved for myself?   Those are moments we should work to achieve.  Those moments with our family, our children and our grandchildren.  Those moments that the world knows nothing about.  Those moments that we dredge from the recesses of our mind from time to time.  To make us smile and spend a moment remembering those things that mean nothing to the world, but gives us fifteen minutes of pure joy in our old age.