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Vince and Me

There is good news and bad news. The good news, obviously, is that the Virginia Tech football team is now batting .500 in trips to a Death Valley this season. Things went considerably better at the Clemson version. As for the bad news, Tech still appears to not have anything closely resembling a decent offense and an injury to All-Everything LB Vince Hall will keep him sidelined for a while. And that’s not even the worst of it. Well, at least from my perspective.

Keeping with the good news, and there was plenty, that was quite an education in Beamerball Tommy Bowden and his Tigers received Saturday night. Defense and Special Teams ruled. When in doubt, Frank went back to his program’s basics and came up big. Spotting Tech’s offense seven points before they even take the field was an excellent example of pitching in on the part of Bud’s defense. Eddie Royal also showed that if the quarterback can’t get him the ball, he will take matters into his own hands.

The way Tech won was reminiscent of the 1998 season, the last time Frank fielded a team with virtually no offense whatsoever [the decision had been made that year to keep the red-shirt on the highly-touted freshman QB prospect]. Things worked out fairly well that year, as Tech came within a last-second Donovan McNabb pass of playing in the Orange Bowl. If things work out that well again, I suspect Frank will take it.

Frank also kept his Bowden record intact. He has never beaten Bobby and never lost to Tommy. Unfortunately, Clemson does not show up on Tech’s schedule until 2011, while Daddy Bowden will appear much sooner.

Once again, the Tommy Bowden Death Watch has appeared right on schedule. The leaves begin to turn and the IPTAY gang begins clamoring for the younger Bowden’s neck in a noose. They haven’t gotten it yet, although game-planning sessions that include comments of “Naw, we don’t need to worry about kick returns” indicates there may be some justification for the feelings of the lynch mob.

That was the good news. The bad news, aside from Tyrod’s extended learning curve, demonstrating why almost all freshman QBs wear red shirts, was Vince Hall’s injury. Vince will be out for at least four weeks. He will have company.

Last Thursday morning, while putting the finishing touches to ‘The Other Guys,’ I noticed that my nose was beginning to resemble Tyrod running from defensive linemen. I dismissed the sniffles and a few hours later left for Roanoke to begin the Clemson weekend. Looking back, that was perhaps a mistake.

Things got progressively worse on routes 58 and 220. By Boone’s Mill I was afflicted with a hacking cough, aches most everywhere and was alternating between burning up and shivering with bone-numbing chills. By the time we made my brother’s Roanoke abode it was all I could to stagger into his spare bedroom and collapse. Things were not starting well.

After an hour or so, the decision was made that I maybe would not be an asset to the trip. While it was indeed Tech football and I was prepared to play through the pain, the concept of sharing my illness with first a van full of fellow Tech fans, then an entire tailgate, would not have enhanced my popularity. I was taken back to Danville that night.

After a very difficult Thursday night, I roused myself Friday and stumbled to the office of my Quack. After the usual hour and a half of waiting [well, he had agreed to see me without an appointment], I found myself in an examination room listening to him exclaim, “Something must really be wrong if you’re not going to Clemson.” Several seconds later, after a very brief examination, he was racing from the room in panic. Several minutes later, a bevy of nurses clad in hazmat suits warily entered and proceeded to perform a number of medical functions, then ran away to safety.

After a while and another bout of chills, the Quack re-entered, sort of. He was wearing a surgical mask and stood in the doorway, as far away from me as he could get and still make some pretense of dealing with a patient. He drew upon all of the knowledge gained from medical school, his medical residency and almost three decades of private practice and gravely informed me, “You are very sick.”

No shit?

I was wrong about that, as a couple of hours later, as the Quack predicted, I was hit with the first of the rather annoying spasms of diarrhea that make the period following the ingestion of any foodstuffs interesting.

I was informed I had somehow managed to contract a viral pneumonia. So much for my last hope that the Quack would produce some magic tonic that would quickly have me in the pink, or maroon, as it were, and have me speeding down I-85 to join the tailgate. I would need bed rest and lots of it.

The Quack was right. The time spent since has been engaged in either bed or recliner rest. The only human contact has been not my buddies from the Clubhouse Tailgate, but from the young lady from a local nursing service assigned to visit a few times a day, apparently to determine I am still among the quick [my temperature is many degrees above that of the room]. Nothing else has been done and, in fact, the hour or so spent on this communication has rendered me so exhausted it will be wrapped up very soon in order for me to spend the rest of Monday in bed.

One would think that a diagnosis of viral pneumonia would be fairly discouraging news and one would be right. Even more of a buzzkill was applied when the Quack informed me it would be at least a month before I could again partake in the pleasures of a football game or tailgate. There are times when modern medical science can be very irritating and this is one of those times.

How I contracted pneumonia remains a mystery, although the Quack mumbled something about the combination of my non-performing thyroid gland along with the surgical removal of a bunch of lymph nodes along with that tumor last year having rendered my immune system a shell of its former vibrant self. Whatever.

I now find myself confined to my house and looking forward to the upcoming visit by the nurse, who at least, provides a bit of human contact. After that, I’m going back to bed. Like Vince Hall, I am out for quite a while. The Tech team will very likely miss Vince more than me.

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