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Concerning Punting

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North Carolina State v Clemson Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

My name is Tom O’Brien, and I punted on 4th and 1. I punted on 4th and 1 at Clemson on their 43 yard line. I punted on 4th and 1 at Clemson on their 43 yard line in a one score game when my men controlled our own destiny to win the Atlantic and reach the ACC Championship game. This is my account of the events of that day, signed under the pains and penalties of perjury.

It was a fine November morn, in the two thousand tenth year of our Lord Jesus Christ. I, Tom O’Brien, the Admiral of my Great RED Atlantic Fleet, set forth upon the high seas to a cow pasture in rural South Carolina to impose my will on the Tigers of Clemson. In my mind, they were fucked. Tigers can’t swim.

The first act of war came from the Clemson Commander, a bumbling, discursive fellow called Dabo, hardly a name befitting a leader of men. His attack was subtle, yet swift. In what was perceived as a gesture of good will in the extending of provisions, they mustard gassed our team meal. Those assholes sent that South Carolina barbecue travesty to my men. Biological warfare is want to toll its true effects, a grim reality I would soon realize that afternoon.

We assembled for battle, the Tigers performing some strange rock rubbing ceremony that seems idolatry and tantamount to jacking off (insert X Men rock guy here) though I digress. To my boys, I said, “Anchors aweigh!” and the Battle of Rural South Carolina Cow Pasture commenced in a beautiful display of firepower and 3 and outs and arms-folded-mean-mugging that damn Dabo from my perch on the sideline.

Although a Naval man by education and service, trench warfare has always fascinated me. This is why I assemble such an accomplished cadre of men on the offensive and defensive lines. A wise man once said, “Never hate your enemy, for it shall cloud your judgment.” I allowed my hatred of this “Dabo,” his lack of decorum, his flamboyancy, to underestimate his ability for trench warfare. His defensive line was strong, yet nimble. Deft afoot, steel of will, bull of rush.

You see, me and my boy Dana Good Book had employed a strategy devised during our time at Boston College. We called this the Catholic Contraception method of blocking; you let everything through and pray nothing bad happens. We had initial success, taking a 10 point lead to the intermission. However, in the second half we were caught on our backs. Their incessant pounding broke our ranks, and we soon found that this pounding rendered our Contraception useless. By the time we adjusted to bubble screens, also known as Operation: Reservoir Tip, it was too late. They burst our backfield bubbles and lodged themselves into whichever carrier contained that egg-like pigskin. In essence, we were fucked.

Alas, we arrive at the day of our reckoning. The 4th quarter, where legends are forged and decisions must be made with precision. On Clemson’s end of the cow pasture, we drive onward and have 3rd and 1. We try a nice, conservative run play, as any God fearing coach of menial success knows to be best, yet fail. 4th and 1. The down and distance. A championship season hinges upon my decision, along with the accolades and medals for the fruit salad on my dress whites. I quite fancy a diverse, full fruit salad.

Our destiny apparent, a bowel shaking decision looms. Go for it? Kick a field goal? (The Polish mercenary sniper we hired had missed on the day, and my confidence in him waned.) To make matters worse, the mustard gas of the morning intensified said bowel shaking. I had a severe case of the mudd butt. Yet after failing with the correct playcall on 3rd and 1, would we succeed on 4th? A warrior must know his enemy, and just as his defensive line had KNOWN (wink wink) my men in the backfield, so did Dabo know my tendencies. I had shown my hand. Dabo knew he could hold us. I had to fold. If I’ve learned nothing in this life, the philosophy of Kenny Rogers would surely guide us, lest I soil my pantaloons on the sideline.

A punt. Pin them deep in their territory, we shall. Send out the defense that allowed Kyle Parker, yes Kyle Parker, to carve them up like Iberian pork? Yes. Yes, GOOD, they shall be our saving Grace and Dabo shall rue the day he engaged Admiral Tom in battle! And they shall sing songs of my bravery and erect statues in my honor! An odyssey for Admiral Tom! Major Tom merely received an oddity! A fine snap, a clean catch and...and...a punt that went two social distances. Ah, shit.

They say the Victor writes the history, but the Tom lost the game. NEVER AGAIN shall I err in special teams decisions! No more shall Tom O’Brien’s decision to punt be the death knell for the Great RED Atlantic Fleet, a surly pack of wolves (a fine name, perhaps we shall adopt it! The North Carolina State University Pack of Wolves!) hungry for honor and destined for greatness. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must watch film of a budding young recruit from the state of Florida called Giovanni Bernard, for I wish him to join our ranks.

God Bless In Storms and Squalls,

Admiral Thomas P. O’Brien