rent like champion

March 27, 2013

One Sick Dawg

Rambo was indeed "NASTY" during an MVP
performance in the '87 Liberty Bowl.
With having two young children, I've come to realize that if one of them gets sick, there's a chance I'll become sick as well.  If both are sick, forget about it -- I'm definitely catching something.  So, when my 5-year-old got strep throat and then my 3-year-old came down with a severe cold soon after, I braced myself.  However, little did I know that the bug I was to catch would be more like a bugaboo.
Roughly a week after sensing the initial symptoms, I'm just now getting over the flu.  During my illness, since all I really felt like doing was sleeping, there was little time to devote to this blog.  Therefore, for anyone that sent me any blog-related emails or posted a comment hoping for a response, I'll get around to responding soon.
During my time of confinement, admittedly, there was a period, or three, of me feeling sorry for myself.  However, besides reminding myself that I still didn't have it nearly as tough as many people in this world, I also realized that there were several Georgia players from the past who were as sick, or even sicker, and actually went out and played in a major-college football game.
During a period where I had plenty of time to think -- in fact, too much -- and when it seems like everyone is catching some sort of bug, I came up with the top five "sick" moments in the history of Georgia football.  Notre Dame's Joe Montana might have his "Chicken Soup Game," but as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't quite compare to the ill moments of these hard-nosed Bulldogs:
#1- JOHN BRANTLEY (1987 Liberty Bowl vs. Arkansas)
A bad case of food poison, which would lead to vomiting and diarrhea during the game, was not going to keep John Brantley from his final appearance in a Bulldog uniform.  There's a good reason he was nicknamed "Rambo"...  During the week of the bowl game in Memphis, Brantley didn't practice and didn't go to any team functions, but laid in bed with IVs while taking medicines. 
As Brantley recently told me: "I couldn't hold my head up.  I just briefly warmed up right before kickoff after getting shot up with IVs.  At halftime, I got IVs again and they popped my left shoulder that had fallen out back in place, and then I just went back on the field and played again."  Simple as that.  And, by the way, Brantley was named Defensive MVP of Georgia's 20-17 comeback victory over Arkansas.   
#2- HERSCHEL WALKER (1982 Florida)
Against the Gators in '82, Herschel had such a bad case of the flu, he wore a girdle under his uniform to keep from shivering in 62-degree Jacksonville weather.  Regardless, no illness, Florida defense, or women's undergarments could stop Herschel that day as he rushed for 219 yards and 3 touchdowns on 35 carries in just over 2½ quarters of play in a 44-0 Georgia victory.
When Coach Vince Dooley was asked what would have happened if he had played Herschel a little longer, he said, "he may have gotten 300 yards."  When Herschel was asked about his girdle, he said, "it keeps you warm." 
#3- FRAN TARKENTON (1960 Florida)
Damaged, dizzy, and sleep deprived, Tarkenton
(No. 10) completes a pass against Florida in 1960.
The night before the '60 Florida game, Tarkenton had not slept at all while suffering from asthma attacks.  The medication he took, according to the senior quarterback, "made me flighty during the game."  And it showed as Georgia trailed 22-0 in the fourth quarter, but there was no quit in the courageous Tarkenton.
First, scrambling as far back as Florida’s 30-yard line before reaching the end zone, Tarkenton scored on a 4-yard touchdown run facing fourth-and-goal.  On the play, he received a vicious hit to his hip by a Gator defender, causing the Bulldog quarterback to limp the rest of the game.  Next, Tarkenton drove Georgia 53 yards to a touchdown in just four plays and the Bulldogs had reduced Florida’s lead to only eight points.  However, with only a few minutes to play and Tarkenton barely able to move, Georgia ran out of steam and was eventually defeated, 22-14.  With no sleep, dizzy from medication, and often limping, Tarkenton completed 14 of 28 passes against the Gators for 145 yards. 
With a much-heralded sophomore signal caller, who in less than a month's time had suddenly taken the Southland by storm, venturing to Athens, it was the worst possible time for both the injury and flu bug to hit a few vital members of the Georgia football team.  Regardless, Bill Stanfill, who was both injured and sick, played and in typical Stanfill style, harassed Archie Manning all afternoon.  The sophomore sensation completed just 10 of 26 passes for 150 yards and was intercepted three times.  It would be the only occasion of three Georgia would defeat Manning and the Rebels.  On offense, the Bulldogs needed little more than end Dennis Hughes.  Recovering from the flu, Hughes caught six passes for 134 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown with just minutes remaining to clinch a 21-7 win.
#5- "FATTY" and a FEW OTHERS (1928 Georgia Tech)
Georgia Tech was on its way to a perfect 10-0 record and a Rose Bowl win while Georgia was en route to a losing season.  To make matters worse, a flu epidemic had hit the University of Georgia campus, including wiping out nearly the entire football team.  By game time, the Bulldogs were without four of 11 starters, including one of the nation's best tackles, Gene Lautzenhiser.  Others like standouts Harvey Hill, Joe Boland, Frank Dudley, and Vern "Fatty" Bryant started but reportedly were still quite sick and probably shouldn't have played.  However, never count out a team when they feature a player named "Fatty"... 
Georgia shockingly held a 6-0 second-quarter lead following a touchdown pass from Bobby Hooks to Herb Maffett -- two backups.  Alas, in the end, the Jackets strength overcame the sick Bulldog bunch by a 20-to-6 score.  Nevertheless, the moral victory was called a "valiant" performance and "the fighting spirit of Georgia was the highlight of the game," while proving that even in defeat to the Techies, the Bulldogs have always stolen the show...

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