By Mike Stevens
A Jimmy Tilford Tale
Jimmy Tilford was bored and bummed again. It was a late Sunday fall day, and he’d have school again tomorrow. Wasn’t it just Friday afternoon yesterday, and he’d have two whole days to mess around? Now, here it was Sunday afternoon; where had the time gone? It just wasn’t fair! Jimmy LOVED football, but now all the games were over. Well, all the games with teams he liked, anyway. There was a game on T.V., but he HATED both teams. Well, maybe hate was too strong of a word, but he wasn’t going to watch. He grabbed his football, and headed for the back yard.
He was wearing the jersey of his favorite player, the quarterback of the Portland Lancers, Clint Powers. That guy was incredible! Suddenly, Jimmy BECAME him.
The air was crisp; ice covered was the frozen tundra, and the weather screamed ‘Football!’ The 100,000 fans in attendance, and the millions more watching across the nation on T.V. were not expecting another Jimmy-Clint Power’s miracle. The only person who was, was Jimmy-Clint himself. His team, the Portland Lancers, faced 4th down and 25. The game clock was down to 30 second left in the game, running, and Portland couldn’t stop it; they were out of time-outs. They trailed by 6 points to the hated Orlando Dynamo. This was a do-or-die playoff game. If Portland lost, it would be a long winter, but Jimmy-Clint had no intention of allowing that to happen. He called a down-and-out, hail Mary pass into the end zone. Everybody in the stands, everybody watching on T.V, and every player on the opposing squad KNEW what was about to happen. Jimmy-Clint took the snap, dropped back to pass, waited as long as he could, and launched the ball as deep and as far as he could. The crowd was on their feet, holding their breath, as the pass arced down from the heights; right into the arms of a defender. All he had to do was catch it, or knock it down, and the game for all intents and purposes was over; but instead the ball ricocheted off his shoulder pads, and caromed high into the winter air, right into the waiting arms of a Portland receiver, who pulled it in, and tumbled to the ground. Touchdown; they had done the impossible, tied the game! All that remained was to kick the extra point, and Portland would win.
As place kicker Ned Ball stood up to run onto the field, his foot became entangled in the one of the cables for one of the T.V. cameras, and he tripped and plummeted to the unforgiving turf. He felt a searing pain in his leg, and knew he’d be unable to kick. When the head coach learned of the kicker’s injury, his shoulders slumped in defeat. So close to victory! Now, he’d have no choice but to go for 2. They could still go ahead, but the odds were cut dramatically. He informed his team of the unfortunate turn of events, and was just about to call for the offense to go for 2, when Jimmy-Clint spoke up.
“I’ve never tried kicking, but I know I can make this kick; let me try!”
The coach was about to say no way, when he looked at Jimmy-Clint’s face, and saw something, a steely-eyed certainty, that made him change his mind. “Okay, Jimmy-Clint, get in there, and kick us to victory!”
Jimmy-Clint ran onto the field, and lined up to kick. The wind was swirling, the fans were screaming, and he knew all the fans watching at home were holding their breath. He lined up behind the holder, who barked out the signals, the ball was snapped, Jimmy took a couple of steps forward, and launched the kick over the outstretched hands of the Orlando players, straight and true through the uprights; the kick was good, and Portland had won! Jimmy was ecstatic; while never in doubt, because HE controlled his daydream, watching the kick sail through the uprights in his mind was still sweet. It was good to be king!
Then, he heard his mother’s voice, calling him to dinner. Gridiron glory was good, but pot roast was better!