The Play Players
Norcalnick talks about The Play.
Moen to Rodgers to Garner to Rodgers to Ford to Moen. Like pi to math majors, every Cal fan should know the sequence. But how exactly did a last second victory in a game with no real national significance become so legendary, so mythical?
When I was 9 I went to my first Big Game and watched Cal win. Having been hooked on Cal football, I then saw Cal lose 7 straight times. My Mom, the consummate pessimistic yet loyal Cal fan, would hold up The Play as our desperate Cal fan trump card. Lose 7 in a row to the ‘furd? So what, we have The Play. Go a decade without a bowl? Whatevs, we have The Play. No Rose Bowl berths in either of our lifetimes? No worries, we have The Play.
For 20 years between The Play and Tedford, it was our one shining moment in a sea of football pain and misery. Whenever the Big Game was in Palo Alto my mom would play a tape that analyzed The Play, including an introduction, the CALX call of the game (which is significantly more confusing even than Starkey’s call) and player interviews. We played it to piss off the Stanford fans, because THEY LOST ON THE PLAY!
Every once in a while ESPN or Sports Illustrated will have some silly internet voting for the greatest play in college (or sports) history. Despite a biased voting public, The Play almost always wins. Nothing can match 6 laterals against your biggest rival with the most insane band in America on the field.
It is here that we must mention the unfortunate part of our story: Mariet Ford, he of the psychic blind lateral, is currently behind bars for the murder of his wife and 35 month old son. The Chronicle has a long profile on Ford, detailing the glory of The Play and his fall from grace.
Now, in 2009, with 6 straight bowl games and perennial conference title contention, maybe The Play isn’t as important as it used to be. We don’t need to hang our hat on one moment. Or, maybe The Play will remain as a moment that defines Cal athletes and fans alike with the attitude that the Bear will not quit, the Bear will not die.
And if you ever wondered if The Play was ‘the most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending... exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football,’ I’ll leave you with this:
For many years, John Elway was bitter, on both a personal level and on behalf of his team, about the touchdown being allowed: "This was an insult to college football... They [the officials] ruined my last game as a college football player."