October 22, 2010 by David Gillaspie
The Dallas Cowboys carry the status of Miracle Team, one of two in existence. The other is the Oregon Ducks. I’ve seen their miracles in person.
First the Cowboys.
My grandfather from Dallas, Grand Daddy, grew old and deaf. He seemed the sort of character who wouldn’t enjoy an old age in more ways than one.
Married seven times and driven twice that number of new cars off the lot, he was in a class by himself. He liked his ladies and his cars, and they liked him. His words of comfort to one of his wives during a difficult pregnancy included, “don’t worry about your marital duties honey, I’ve got the lady up the street lined up for that.”
Those were different times.
They still divorced soon after.
His last wife was the sweetest woman I’ve ever met, and also a jailer in the ladies section of the Dallas County lock-up. When we visited she gave us the Lee Harvey Oswald tour and took mug shots.
Grand Daddy was quite aged on his last trip to the Northwest. He had difficulty moving around and full of enough health woes to fill a term of medical school. On the Sunday before he left Oregon for Texas, the Cowboys had a game on television. Grandkids and great-grandkids filled a living room where he sat opposite the tv.
The noise in the room drowned out the television audio, but not for Grand Daddy. He heard every word. He could repeat the play-by-play to the person next to him on the couch, me. He heard everything and I heard nothing but him.
The Miracle of the Cowboy Broadcast is stunning enough, and serves as evidence of the power of sport, but it pales in comparison to the miracle Oregon Duck football bestowed upon his daughter, aka my mom.
The Oregon Ducks carried the weight of the number one ranking in all of big time college football. It’s the sort of crown reserved for Ohio State who beat the Ducks in the 2010 Rose Bowl.
It’s Alabama and Oklahoma territory.
Now it’s the Oregon Ducks.
ESPN slotted the Oregon vs UCLA game for its Thursday night showcase, a meaningful college game for the entire country. All of Oregon listened to the national radio and television announcers talk about Oregon, Oregon, and more Oregon. I was feeling that number one feel.
A Wednesday morning phone call before the game sounded frazzled. My step-dad said my mom had a stroke. I mounted up and bounced down I-5 to Eugene’s River Bend Hospital. By the time I got there they’d tested her and found no stroke, but wanted to keep her in for observation. Except the new hospital didn’t have a room for her.
The old hospital near the UO campus had room, so she transferred closer to home.
On Game Day she wanted to watch from home. Autzen Stadium lies between her house and the University hospital. Traffic piled up on the Ferry Street Bridge. She waited and waited to be released.
The clock moved closer to kick-off.
Finally, a physical therapist came in to make the call for home or hospital. If she could pass the physical tests, then she could leave.
Even though my mom has enough health woes to fill the medical school term after her dad’s clinical study, she gathered herself to perform.
Can she take her socks off? Can she stand? Can she get dressed? Get in and out of bed?
The woman jumped around like a ballerina; marched like a trooper with her walker. The Oregon Ducks filled her with so much hope and promise that she had to get home to see them, and jumped through the hoops to do it. If the therapist had a hoop, she could have jumped through it. A lap around the rhythmic gymnastic mat with a ribbon and a ball seemed possible.
She made it home.
The final score of 60-13 proved the sort of good medicine sports gives everyone. Young people take it for granted, old people take it to heart. Having a team to care about means engaging the community. You check the paper; watch the news. You talk to your neighbors.
Most of all you hear Oregon. You open the door and see Oregon when you’re in Oregon.
But it’s a new Oregon.
It’s Number One Oregon.
As if that’s not miracle enough.