Friday, November 2, 2012

The source of my back pain could be Carolina's punt return team

I am taking today off work because of increasing back pain that started Monday night without apparent cause. I feel undue guilt for missing work since a lot of people depend on me every day, so I will list possible moments of injury to rationalize my absence.

1. I transported a heavy laptop case and two textbooks to and from work in the passenger seat of my car Monday morning and afternoon. I lifted them into my lap while sitting in the driver's seat before exiting the car.

2. My wife and I cleaned our house Sunday night in preparation for hosting her brother. As was her custom for the few months since our wedding, she pointed to our ottoman full of blankets, magazines and board games and said, "Please lift." As was my custom, I lifted.

3. NC State was tied with my Tar Heels with less than two minutes remaining when State head coach Tom O'Brien decided to eat all three of his time outs and settle for overtime with the ball inside the State 25. He figured he had an advantage in overtime since the State passing attack had toyed with our secondary for much of the game. Carolina head coach Larry Fedora decided to gamble on third and long when he called a time out to stop the clock. It could have been a disastrous decision if the Wolfpack moved the chains, but the Carolina defense made the stop. Fedora called Carolina's last time out with 30 seconds on the game clock, and the stage was set for the most unexpected if not the most electrifying finish in series history.

I was sitting with my dad, my wife and my friend Daniel in the upper level near the 50, a perfect location to watch a game-winning play that spanned 74 yards. Most of my readers know what happened next. The injured Giovanni Bernard substituted himself back into the game when he heard his favorite play call. Carolina faked a full rush and dropped back for the return. Gio beat the first man and crossed the field where a wall of blockers greeted him. Play-by-play voice Jones Angell lost his mind. Sixty-thousand fans lost their minds. Hundreds of thousands of fans not in Kenan lost their minds. Five years of futility vanished in 17 seconds.

My friend Daniel really lost it. His vocabulary shrinks to a set of 15 words, not all publishable, when the Tar Heels find themselves in this sort of elation or, as he demonstrated last year at Virginia Tech, dire disappointment. I did not lose my mind until Gio crossed the goal line because I was scanning the field for flags, but Daniel seemed to know what would happen as soon as Gio sprinted toward the NC State sideline. He jumped and used his words. When he saw I was not, he wrapped his arms around my waist and repeatedly thrust me into the air.

The remaining 13 seconds of game clock resulted in a botched PAT that turned into a two-point conversion, a kicking team fumble recovery and a victory formation. It was plenty of time and material to "Jump Around," a basketball tradition that I am happy to see has crossed over into Kenan. But my back might not be happy about it or Daniel's celebration.

Either work, family or Carolina football really tore me up. I know you can relate. I only have video footage of the football incident courtesy of Enjoy.

Note: You might need to press control+escape to exit full-screen mode.

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