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I ran into an old friend exiting a movie theater at the multiplex this weekend past. Coincidentally, we both had just seen the movie, My All American.

It’s a football movie, the story of Freddie Steinmark, amidst the backdrop of 1969 and the Game of the Century between Texas and Arkansas. Freddie played for Texas.

The narrator in another football tear-jerker movie, Brian’s Song states, “Ernest Hemingway once said ‘Every true story ends in death.’ Well, this is a true story.”

Likewise, so is My All American. There were tears shed when I saw it.

I hadn’t seen Al in a while, but I recalled him being the biggest Texas football fan from Chicago when he was in high school in that 1969 season and it was no surprise to see him at the theater on the opening weekend of the movie.

“Whatcha think? I asked.

“The story’s a classic. The football scenes were amazing. Some dance movie may be nominated for best choreography. This one never will, but they choreographed the key plays in the key games just the way they happened. Almost like a football dance scene. For a couple hours there, I lost myself and went back to the time.”

Feeling like I just stepped out of a time warp myself, I nodded. “What about the portrayal of Steinmark?”

“Can’t say,” Al said. “I never knew him and I wasn’t there. But, maybe there WAS a clean cut kid or three out there back then in the sixties. Those weren’t the ones who got glamorized but maybe they’re the ones who should be remembered too.”

“The critics don’t seem to think so. They said the character lacked depth.”

“Depth? Hmp. Screw the critics. They also said some of the dialogue was too cliché. Coach Darrell Royal was the king of southern football coach cliché so how the hell ya supposed to portray him without some of his pearls. You never lose a game if the other team doesn’t score.”

“Three things can happen when you pass and two of them are bad,” I retorted.

“We’re gonna dance with who brung us,” Al countered.

“He’s not very fast, but Elizabeth Taylor can’t sing.”

We laughed.

After a post-chuckle pause, I asked, “How the heck did you become a Texas fan?”

Al paused, smiled as he reflected and said, “When I was a kid, I was a sports nut. Watched every game, read every newspaper article and when I went to bed I threw out ten pennies and a dime on my mattress and made up football plays. All sorts of different things no one ever tried. The dime was the quarterback. Should been a quarter, but I was a rebel back then,’ he said with a slight smile.

“I made up a formation that looked like this.”

Al pulled a pocket full of change from his pocket and laid it out on a bench.

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“And the dime made you a Texas fan?”

“Not even,” Al mused. ‘So I was watching a game one Saturday in 1968, the Texas Oklahoma game at the Cotton Bowl. And the announcers were raving about this brand new formation the Texas Longhorns had. Nobody ever ran anything like it before that and nobody could stop it. They called it a wishbone. I looked at them run their plays and thought, ‘Hey, I invented that in my bedroom in the 5th grade.’ So they became my team.

You see sometimes you envision things and you don’t know why the vision even came into your head, but when you see it happen, when you see it come life, well, you gotta embrace it. So, I became a Longhorns fan. Then to see it on the silver screen years later.” Al lingered on the thought.

He put the change back in his pocket, glanced at the clock and said, “Good seeing ya. Gotta run.”

“You too.” I replied. Then as an afterthought I asked, “Hey Al you always carry that kind of change around.”

“Nah, just brought it along to remember my dream, didn’t think I’d have a chance to tell the story. Sometimes, you never know.”

Al went along his way.

As I headed to the parking lot, I reached into my pocket and found 18 cents in change. I wondered if that was enough to start a dream.

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