On the phone Bird Dawg reminds me that, when paying a bet, men who run numbers are the most polite in the world. He exemplifies the high etiquette of all people who want your money in their pockets. It’s the reason street musicians smile and loan officers do not.
Politeness can sometimes bleed into flattery. So the Dawg omits mention of my doubts for the Brodie to focus instead on Alabama busting the spread.
How did I know Shaud Williams would have an ESPN GameDay kind of day, he asks. How did I foresee his two touchdowns, his 177 total yards? How did I envision that Williams, like blasting caps miners stow away for fun – small but noticeably explosive, would force USF’s linebackers to pull back, to hesitate, and most dangerous of all – if they ever had hope of stopping our blessed Saint of Rainbow City from tossing 200-plus yards through the air – to think!
(More importantly, he asks, don’t I want to let it ride?)
The football player, more than most athletes, cannot afford the luxury of thinking. The stakes are too high and the game too violent for that indulgence once players take the field. Shaud Williams was not thinking when he ran that punt into the end zone; he simply was. To return a kick means just that: return the kick.
That is why the Sooners are dangerous. It is why they are ranked #1. It is why they are a touchdown favorite on Bama’s home field – easily the friendliest place in the world where visitors expect to be smacked in the mouth. Some of these young men have not thought in four years.
How can you lay a spread, I ask Bird Dawg, for a team openly named after cheaters? He gets the joke right away; like most good bookies, he’s a historian. But sometimes, hopefully tomorrow, rather than learning from the past, odds makers merely live in it, like a widow whose heart holds an excess of love for which the present leaves no outlet.