Friday, April 14, 2006

University of Alabama Football Report for Good Friday 2006

Last of the gang to die

I come not to praise Logan Young, et cetera, et cetera.

Aside from the mixed bag of notable and infamous margin notes that become apparent when writing about Logan Young – friend of Coach Bryant, skybox renter, felon – he will possibly be most remembered as the only man known to have died by falling up a flight of stairs.

I first met Logan Young during a fever dream induced by homemade agave wine, brutal and primitive stuff given to me by a Korean-Mexican-American woman I’d followed to an after-show party for the Sex Pistols’ reunion gig in Memphis. The girl’s mother mailed her the wine in a 12oz. plastic Pepsi bottle, and some chemical bonding may have taken place to make the drink more hallucinatory than intended – this was in the days we didn’t fear our mail, so I can’t blame the Post Office’s eradiating machines.

The Pistols were obviously cashing out their fame (rumor was they even – gasp – rehearsed for the tour), and their rage was little more than a novelty act. How serious can you take Johnny Rotten saying, “fuck Elvis,” when to most of the crowd he is Elvis? Rotten was about three “fuck Elvis”es into his rant and I was about a third into the Pepsi bottle when I saw Logan Young. He was naked except for a discreetly placed University of Alabama licensed beer-bottle cozy, and he had heard enough.

“You don’t know anything about Elvis,” he told Rotten. “He could have been a fine split end and was a better singer than you.” He was clutching a stone-tipped spear with both hands and blood was welling up behind his eyes. Later, I followed him toward the Mississippi river and watched him wade into the current, wrestling large catfish to the surface with his bare hands. “The universe feeds me,” he cried. I woke up on the riverbank the next morning wearing Walter Lewis’s Memphis Showboats jersey and he was gone.

The miserable death of Logan Young marks, if not the extinction, then at least the endangered species warning for one philosophy of college football. To be sure, college football is not one bit purer, not one iota less corrupt at the end of this week than it was at the beginning, but the corruption itself is changing. The Cosa Nostra’s been replaced by the corporation. All the swindlers survive, but they’re not as colorful.

Young and his contemporaries sin in that they believe their support equals ownership, and in their ownership they become protective, deceitful, greedy, and deluded. However, these new behind-the-scenes players in college football sin in ownership without support. What’s good for “college football” the television show may not be good for college football itself. At least Young at his worst believed he was helping his team, believed he was part of something bigger than himself.

You can call bullshit on that if you want, tell me that it’s foolish to peddle a bunch of hype onto folks with money, say that people shouldn’t live their lives believing in some fanciful connection to greatness they haven’t earned. Fine. Just wait until Easter mass is finished to say it.

Roll Tide.