Archive for Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Fly Route

November 23, 2005

The legendary Bill Snyder's final game, Saturday's Kansas State vs. Missouri game, was made to be memorable, yet 45 minutes into the game the most remarkable thing about the atmosphere in the newly-christened Bill Snyder Family Stadium was the lack thereof.

The coach first greeted fans with a taped message just before kick off, and the university presented a collection of video taped well-wishers that kept butts in seats through halftime. But from the not-quite-full stadium to the odd lack of enthusiasm that seemed to fill the empty seats, there was something just not right about ... everything.

Then it all changed. The greatest quarterback in Missouri history, i.e. the-0-4-versus-K-State-and-1-7-versus-the-state-of-Kansas Brad Smith, tossed an insanely stupid pass directly at Wildcat linebacker Brandon Archer.

Archer streaked down the sideline for a touchdown and cemented not just K-State's 13th straight victory over the Tigers, but the game's place in Wildcat lore.

Odd that with all that was going on it took a dramatic finish, but without it, I think I would have come away from Saturday's game disappointed in what was supposed to be a send off for the ages.

It wasn't just that my team won the emotional game. It was how it won and as I looked back at my favorite sports memories, the ties that bind appear to have little to do with rankings, history or importance.

Rather momentum swings and finishes have dictated what I remember today and what stories I'll tell my kids in 30 years.

The 2000 K-State-Nebraska game stands above all in my mind. Other games meant more to history -- K-State's 2003 Big 12 championship and the Denver Broncos back-to-back Super Bowls stand out -- but Saturday I realized that events surrounding the games don't always a good game make.

It snowed at that Nebraska game. K-State knocked off Nebraska for the first time in modern history two years prior, and would do so again in three of the next four years.

But K-State trailed as the clock wound down that season and that's what made the difference. Bitterly cold throughout, the snow finally fell just as Jonathan Beasley connected with Quincy Morgan for the go-ahead score. And the fans went wild. It was that crazy kind of celebration where you jump and scream and hug literally every person within reach.

It was as magical as anything I've ever experienced.

That atmosphere was present again Saturday against Missouri. Archer intercepted the pass and cruised for the touchdown and we screamed and jumped, celebrated and hugged.

If K-State wins that game by 30, it's still an emotional, unforgettable event. Same goes if the Cats lose. But to win that way, it made the afternoon perfect.

There are plenty of more important things than sports to be thankful for in our lives, and I'm sure you all have moments of amazement that dwarf anything sports could ever bring. But -- and this is the thing that I love most about sports -- when that sporting moment comes, when all the pieces fall together and you can celebrate and hug anyone and everyone, well, that's what it's all about.

I'm thankful I've enjoyed such moments and I hope you have as well.

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