That is the infamous “deer in the headlights” look you see on my face, wonderfully captured by Laura Saturday night at the KU – South Dakota football game. During the first quarter, Keon Stowers intercepted a pass, eluded a tackle and dashed to the end zone. I was able to take long lens photographs easily before switching to my small sideline camera as Stowers joyously crossed the goal line, arms upraised in celebration and continued past me. The 300-pound defensive lineman was not the problem.
The real problem was the wave of players running full blast just behind Stowers intent on joining the celebration. As I pulled the camera down from my face, I was staring just like a deer into the eyes of linebacker Ben Heeney, brightly beaming with joy as he roared headlong towards me.
Unlike most plays along the sidelines, Stowers’ return brought KU’s entire defense trailing along behind. Dodging a few players on the sideline, with rare exception, is not that hard. On Saturday, players were coming from all angles heading for one man. I was potential road kill in the way. To dodge Heeney meant I would be putting myself into the path of another player. Either way, my mind was flashing warning signs that this was not going to end well.
Mercifully, it did end well. I still am not sure what I did other than start to duck – fast! I sensed Heeney just missing me as I leaned to my right. Apparently this all was well documented by television cameras as many people enjoyed telling me. In my long career, rarely have I ever thought about injury, but Saturday was one of them.
Even though penalties nullified Stowers’ remarkable effort, the run electrified the team and crowd. It also put a different kind of charge into me. I was the happy deer that stared into the high beams and managed to survive.