Merry Christmas, 2000
To celebrate Christmas, I am sharing my Christmas Day columns, a tradition that started in 1996. Here is the 2000 version:
A Christmas story, 1990s: The football coach invited over a colleague’s family for Christmas dinner.
The coach’s wife brought in a pumpkin pie, and the coach stood up, reached for the pie and placed a plump piece on his plate.
In the meantime, his coaching pal was up to no good. John Latina, now the offensive coordinator at Ole Miss, had moved the coach’s chair.
When the coach sat back down, he crashed to the floor. His head snapped back and put a hole in the sheet rock. The pumpkin pie flew up and back and stuck to the wall.
The coach, who was OK and still laughs about it to this day when bringing much to the Oklahoma football table is Mark Mangino.
A Christmas story, 1951: The big football player was home from Penn State. He was depressed. School had not gone well. He wasn’t making his grades. He wondered if he belonged, a poor black youth in a prestigious institution.
His father’s health was failing fast, and he hatched a plan. Quit school, and go back to a summer job in the gold-smelting section of a refinery.
He went for a walk. It was a chilly and bleak night in Roselle, N.J. He looked hard at what he saw. Drunks lying in the gutter. Drab row houses, where men lived in quiet desperation.
He went back to Penn State. He graduated. He made the NFL. He became a political activist, and when Robert Kennedy killer Sirhan Sirhan fired the fatal shots, he was corralled by Rosey Grier.
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