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Over the weekend, I went to the hospital to see a buddy of mine. I made my way up the elevator, walked down the hallway, found his room number and walked in slowly not knowing what I'd find. He was lying in his bed; there were tubes in his nose and an I.V. attached to his arm. He was asleep, so after waiting awhile, I turned to leave.

"Where do you think you're going?" he asked.

"I thought you were asleep. I didn't want to wake you."

"Can you stay for a bit?"

"Absolutely," I said. "So how are you doing, Red?" I asked him.

"I had another rough weekend," he replied, trying to smile, "but my doctors say I'm actually getting better."

He didn't look better, but I kept my thoughts to myself.

"Tell me what's been going on."

"Well, you see, I've been getting weaker for some time-several years actually-just didn't seem to have my old spark anymore."

To be sure, Red used to be a robust, gregarious guy who loved competition and was adored by many people. He was the pillar of strength, dedication and success.

"Why didn't you tell me you were feeling bad?" I asked.

"I didn't want to worry you."

"Worry me!" I said incredulously. "How long have we been friends?

"A long time."

"Forty-two years to be exact. Why didn't you let me know you were feeling so bad? Maybe I could have helped."

"I didn't say anything because I kept thinking things would get better. That maybe it was all in my head. I mean, I'd hardly ever been sick in my life, but I was in Colorado a couple of years ago, and really got hit hard. It was so bad, I thought I'd bought the farm, so to speak."

"What happened?"

"I don't know, but I felt like I'd been run over by a train. I didn't do anything at first, but I knew something was wrong-really wrong, but nobody would listen to me. A couple of months later, I went to California and bam, I had another attack. My doctors kept saying that it was stress, or that it was all in my head."

"So then what did you do?"

"Unfortunately, it took me about a year after that bout, but I realized I had to make some changes to my medical team. So I replaced some doctors and technicians."

"So did things get better?"

"Well, on the outside, things did get better. My vital signs seemed good and my new team of doctors said I had turned the corner. They told me that I was on the road to recovery. But they were wrong."

"Why did you think they were wrong?"

"Because my strength still wasn't very good. I was still growing weaker almost day by day and I got two more setbacks that year, but my doctors kept saying things were okay."

"Then what happened?"

"Last year, the hospital got a new medical director. He'd come from back east somewhere. He said he had seen cases like mine before and knew just what to do to get me back on my feet. He said there were some experimental procedures that would work, but that in the beginning, might make me actually feel worse. Sorta like when cancer patients undergo chemo and radiation therapy."

"You have cancer?"

"No. The director brought in a brand new team. They haven't painted a rosy picture, in fact they even said it may be at least two years before I show signs of getting better. But I'm willing to try anything for a chance to be strong again. Doing what I was doing, wasn't working. I just can't do that anymore. I might not be too pretty to look at for awhile, so in the meantime, you might not want to visit me."

"Listen Red, I'll always be there for you. You know that, don't you?"

"I'm glad I have friends like you, but I've had a lot of people I thought were friends, who now don't bother to visit. Many of them have turned their backs on me. They don't even bother to call or send cards. It really hurts sometimes. You won't leave me, will you?"

"Of course not. How could you even think of such a thing?"

"Look, I don't know when I'm going to be back to 'normal', but I'm doing the best I can. I'm really trying to make this thing work, but right now I don't feel so good. The treatments are on schedule. They say I'll have setbacks from time to time, but I will get better in the long run.

Red looked up at me and smiled and a tear rolled down his cheek.

"See you tomorrow?" Red asked.

"Don't you worry. I'll be there for you."
1.) Why is Barrett Ruud, the Huskers' all-time career leader in tackles, not included in the nomination for the Butkus Award, given each year to the nation's best linebacker? Could it be the rest of his team's defensive performances?
2.) I would urge you to see "Friday Night Lights", a movie based on actual experiences about the Permian High School Panthers football team in Odessa,Texas. The movie, starring Billy Bob Thornton is one of the best sports movies to come around for several years. The football action scenes are excellent. At one point in the movie, when an official makes a horrendous call, the audience in the theater made a collective "Oh no!" even though we were just watching fake scenes. The coach's half-time speech is a classic. Don't miss this one.
3.) To see how the Huskers compare so far this year with the rest of Division I football powerhouses in the recruiting battle, go here. (Thanks to Craig L. from Connecticut)

Dear Husker Dan:
One is a small number so one might think no big deal but for the Huskers that is a really big number. We need 1 more win than you stated in your Big Wed Wap Up to be bowl eligible. You even referenced Wasted Illinois, that win doesn't count toward a bowl trip.
Dear Eric:
Au contrare!!! The NCAA allows one win over a I-AA opponent every 3 years to be counted toward bowl contention. The Huskers have never had to use any of theirs. So two more wins and it's off to Shreveport!

I went to see our top orthopedic spinal surgeon in Rapid City who happened to be Randy Schleusner, of Fumblerooski fame. After my exam I told him I just had to ask, what was it like to run that play. He told me it was in the book all year and practiced routinely but not used. When Coach Tom Osborne called the play, he said he had seven seconds to think about it and no time to get shook up.

He said only the older Husker fans remember that play. I said oh no, most all fans know that play. He was somewhat embarrassed by my making such a big deal out of it. He is a tremendous pillar of this community. What a class act he is. He referees many high school games and is just the most down to earth caring man you could imagine.
Stan S.
Rapid City, SD

Husker Dan:
I wanted to share my first Husker memory with you. My father was born and raised in Omaha, so I was predisposed to becoming a Husker fan. Yet, my love for the Huskers was cemented in 1969, when I was 9 years old. My grandmother had a friend who worked in the Husker ticket office. She arranged for me to visit Coach Devaney.

I will never forget the coach spending half an hour or so with me, even though it was in the middle of the season. He gave me an autographed media guide, and let me attend practice. He even let me run around on the turf at the end of practice and had one of the players toss me a couple of passes. That was 35 years ago, and I've never forgotten it, nor will I ever.

My own son is 11 now, and although we live in Seattle, he has attended three Husker games in Lincoln so far. He has a deep love for the Huskers, and I know that he will pass that along to his son, who will pass it along to his son, etc. etc. Some people may say, "it's only a game", but they just don't get it. No matter what is going on in my life, my passion for the Huskers has always been there. I know that my son has the same passion, and some day his son will also. I also know that whatever develops in my life and my son's life, we will always have the Huskers to share. Nebraska football is one of the deep bonds that he and I will always have. Thanks for the chance to share this with you.

One thing more: When I brought my son to his first Husker game, he was 7 (it was against Colorado). It was the 2000 game (the one we won with a last second field goal). I'll never forget him standing on his seat and screaming for a holding call--he yelled, "holding!! Come on ref--he's holding!!" as the Buff QB dropped back to pass and the Husker D-line attempted to get at him. A group of 70-something fans in front of us turned around and one asked me how old my son was. I said, "he's 7". The guy who had asked smiled, slowly shook his head, and said, "awesome".
Brian P.
Seattle, WA

Readers: All of you have a Husker memory or story you need to share with Husker Pride Worldwide. Your story might be about the first Husker game you ever saw; it could be about the last Husker game you shared with a loved one, or maybe it's a story of what you had to do in order to get Husker tickets. It could be a funny story or just a memorable one. Whatever memory you have, send them to [email protected] and Husker Dan will post the best ones in his column.


This is a game the Huskers can win. This is a game that has history on the side of the Huskers. It's a home game. The Huskers have usually played well at home. The stadium will be packed with 80,000 screaming red clad Husker fans. The game will be on national TV. Missouri's road record has not been good.

So with all that, the Huskers are going to win, right?

Not this time. The fate as well as what has been the bane of the Huskers' existence this year centers on The Two T's: Turnovers and Tackling. We've had too much of the former and not enough of the latter. Just when you think the Huskers have turned the corner, here comes a semi.

The inconsistency of this young Husker offense as they've tried to absorb the WCO is understandable, even after 7 games. What leaves every Husker fan perplexed, is the defense. The Blackshirts have become the Slackshirts. Tackling has been abysmal. And as the offense has continued to shoot itself in the foot time and time again, the defense has been put in terrible positions. The two problems are a destructive combination that have helped to cause the defense to surrender almost 1,400 yards and 142 points in the last three games against unranked teams. These performances have been an embarrassment to Husker Pride Worldwide.

There doesn't seem to be any fire on either side of the ball. Yes, this is a young team that has been doing its best to cope with three different offensive and defensive coordinators in as many years. The staff changes shouldn't be an excuse, but it is a fact.

Until the Huskers can show they are capable of playing inspired, hard hitting and turnover free football for four quarters, they will continue to struggle. Obviously, the Baylor game was, well, just the Baylor game.

What very well could be a portend of things to come, is the ranking of each team regarding turnovers. The Huskers rank 113th nationally, while the Tigers rank 7th. You do the math.

This game could get as ugly as the K-State game. Don't be surprised at a blow out.

Are the Huskers capable of winning? Yes, but as I said, the outlook does not look good. Not this week, not this game, not this opponent. Sorry to say this:


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