Human After All

Thomas B. Shea

I know that feel, Mudville.

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Aggie twelve that day:
The score stood 41-38, with but five minutes more to play.
And then when Marshall got a first down, and then scored to take the lead,
A sickly silence fell upon the Aggie fans indeed.

The two percenters got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Johnny - with his battered shoulder healed -
We'd put up even money, now, with Johnny on the field.

But Ifedi was in at right guard, and Harrison on the left,
And the former was a lulu and the latter lacked in heft;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy reigned
For there seemed but little chance of Johnny winning them the game.

But Ifedi's blocks they held, to the wonderment of all,
And Evans made it clear he had dominion over the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and they stood back and took stock,
They'd nearly made the red zone with 40 seconds on the clock.

Then from 90,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled mile upon mile
For Johnny, mighty Johnny, led the noble men of Kyle.

There was ease in Johnny's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Johnny's bearing and a smile on Johnny's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he wryly cashed them out
No stranger in the crowd could doubt that Johnny had the clout.

Ninety thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his arm with dirt;
Ninety thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the wily defense changed the play to make him trip,
Defiance gleamed in Johnny's eye, a sneer curled Johnny's lip.

And now the leather-covered ball launched hurtling through the air,
And Johnny stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy Evans reached and leapt off of his feet
And nearly made the catch before the pass fell incomplete.

The next down Johnny eyed the field for someone the ball to give,
But in very little time the line was leaking like a sieve.
He juked them left and right, and he turned them round and round;
But the numbers overwhelmed him and they finally brought him down.

With the very next snap great Johnny's concentration shone;
He dodged the rushing line, took two more steps and then was gone;
To make the tackle the backer dragged him backwards down to hell
But no horsecollar was called, and yes not a single flag fell.

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
And a scornful look from Johnny that the referee was flawed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that mighty Johnny wouldn't let them down again.

The sneer is gone from Johnny's lip, his face locked in a glare;
He pounds with cruel violence his fist into the air.
And now the center snaps the ball, and Johnny's muscles draw,
And now the air is silent as the fans watch on in awe.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and the smiles never lack;
But there is no joy in Aggieland - mighty Johnny took a sack.

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