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[ Non-fiction : Sports/ ]

It was 1976 and I had never been to a football game before. I had been invited to come along with a friend and his family and their friends. They had season tickets and I said, sure, Iíll go. Sounded like a good time. Now my parents didnít know much about sports, didnít know how cold it got up in the nosebleed section of Veterans Stadium. So I wasnít really dressed all that warmly. No long underwear. No triple socks. No heated bottles of water to keep me warm. I donít even recall if I were wearing a hat!

But I didnít care, because I was at an Eagles game. We ate hot dogs, pizza, drank hot chocolate and occasionally watched the game. Wasnít much of a great contest. The Eagles were near the bottom and the Redskins were right there with them. I donít recall but it was probably a pretty sloppy game.

Anyway, it was late in the fourth quarter and the Eagles were down by two or three. The Redskins had the ball and everyone in the stadium was getting ready to leave, if not already leaving. That included my friendís parents.

Now I was six and they were I their thirties. And when a thirty year old tells you itís time to leave, you would think I would have left with them? Ha! I folded my arms and refused to get up. It wasnít over until it was over, right? The fact that I was freezing to death didnít occur to me as I remained in my seat, refusing to go. So what did my friendís family do? They almost left without me. Almost. Because in the meantime, the Eagles got the ball back on a punt and drove down the field. ďLook,Ē I said with this giant grin on my face. ďSee? Itís not over.Ē Begrudgingly they had to admit I was right. What few fans were left in the stadium were now on their feet as the clock began to tick down. The Eagles called a time out then a minute later, Horst Muhlman trotted onto the field. Donít know why I remember that name other than the fact that his name was Horst. Didnít know who he was then, and were it not for a few minutes on a cold wintry day, I would never have known even his name.

So there he goes, trotting out onto the field Ė the crowd roaring with anticipation. Not a terribly long field goal attempt. Maybe thirty five yards. Well within range. And there I was sitting smugly with an expression that said, ďSee? Told you so!Ē The time out over, Horst lines up for the kick. The ball is snapped. He takes a couple steps then winds up his leg and boom! The kick is off. I can see immediately itís going to be long enough. Then my heart sinks. He shanked it! He shanked it left! How could he? Ruin my moment of glory! Time had run out and the Eagles had lost yet another game. The next year they would be in the playoffs but for now, they were sitting near the bottom of the division.

We all skulked back to the van and everybody was pissed at me. It was cold, it was getting dark and everyone was tired. I didnít care though. Because even though Horst had shanked the kick, there was that one moment when everyone believed that miracles were not only possible but that one might happen, then, that bitterly cold winterís day.

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