For the Love of a Game

Today I heard some of the saddest news I’ve received in a long time. The passing of Coach Darrell K. Royal, football coach at The University of Texas. He touched lives beyond his players. Coaches transform boys into men, and at that he was a master. Coach Royal was a great and decent man. I’m sure he had his faults. I don’t wish to cover them here. I’d just like to celebrate his life, the joy he brought to millions like me and ponder the end of an era.

In the late 1950’s, early 1960’s when I was 9, 10, 11 years old I learned about Texas football. UT that is. We had a radio in our house that looked like an icebox. About 4 feet tall, 3 feet deep, 5 feet wide. In Midland, TX we were 200+ miles away from Austin. The radio signal was dim at best. Dad, my brother and I could listen to night games, when the  interference with the signal was at a minimum. But my brother and I had to lie on the floor, ears as close to the radio’s speaker as possible and listen to Texas football. Often loud yells and groans caused mother and my sister to wonder if we’d lost our minds. Twice in the 1959-1961 timeframe we went to games in Austin. That was THE biggest thrill of all.

Then in 1967 I enrolled at UT and never missed a home game, very few away games and attended every Cotton Bowl for 5 years. We had a 30-game win streak, won back-to-back National Championships, and knew several of the players. It was an amazing time.

After graduation I’ve gone back to games. I talked to Dad every weekend during the season until he passed away. I frequently have phone conversations with my brother and friends about the ups and downs of UT football. I can watch the games on TV now and don’t have to tune-in on the old radio. And I continue to wear my burnt orange, much to the chagrin of my wife.

Thanks Coach. You brought my brother, Dad and I together first. For some truly memorable times. Then, you brought me together with some of the greatest friends a boy could have when we were at UT. You then allowed us to stay in touch for the love of a game and a place that is truly special to us. And now you allow us to celebrate your life and your legacy. Ain’t but one thing left to say….!!!HOOK’EM HORNS!!!!

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