Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Man, Bears in the city, and Orange Crush

Tribes of hunters in northern Europe believed that The Bear came from the heavens, and according to Finnish folklore, after riding in the sky upon the Great Bear’s shoulders, he was let down to earth because of an infraction against some unnamed taboo. “Where was Bruin given birth, the bear’s cub brought up? In a little woolen box, in a little iron box. Where was Bruin given birth, the bear’s cub brought up? On the peg of a small cloud. How was he let down to earth? On a nameless, quite untouchable string.” (Finnish Folk Poem)

When I was much younger — let’s say, for illustrative purposes, in the last two years of high school — I often had some sort of scheme or small-time con working. Usually, it was minor, with no real victims (except perhaps myself and a few of my accomplices) and was perpetrated only as a method to, and within the intention of, specifically sticking it to The Man.
Born of such a scheme was a trip to Denver one spring, paid for (at least in part) by your hard-earned tax dollars. Forgive me, as I don’t remember all the specific details, but here are the generalities of the story.
Despite my philosophical aversion to pork-barrel politics, or perhaps to illustrate a point, I discovered that certain amounts of potential funding was available under the guise of ‘career exploration’ and ‘opportunity development’ funds for students of my particular age. I applied, and subsequently was approved for a grant from Southwest Board of Co-operative Services (B.O.C.S.) to go and visit the Broncos off-season training facilities in Denver.
Understand, of course, that no one in the right mind would picture my career path on a trajectory to becoming a professional football player. However, quite cleverly I believe, I deflected potential nay saying and outright dismissal of my plan by choosing the potential vocation of sports medicine and ‘professional trainer’ for a shadow program. B.O.C.S. generously sprung several hundred dollars for a trip up to the city so that I could explore the opportunity and the possibility that I might one day choose a career in sports medicine.
Originally, with the initial award of the grant, two other students from Mancos, Mark and John Ott, were also to go to the training facility with me. But a last–minute schedule conflict prevented them from attending, and for a time, I thought the gig was up for me as well.
But because the money had already been allocated and a genuine interest in doing right for the good, young students, soon to be cast out in the cold, cruel world, it was suggested that I ask a couple of friends, perhaps from good old DHS, Home of the Bears, to join me on my journey. I obliged of course, choosing Scott Weinmaster and James Biard to accompany me instead.
It was at precisely at that point, the journey veered dangerously away from an “educational experience” and more towards a fearful and loathsome junket to the capitol city with a fist full of taxpayer’s dollars.
We borrowed a car belonging, I think to James’ mom or his grandfather, but naturally Scott and I would not, under any circumstances, allow James to drive. To do so would have been suicide.
Seven or eight hours on icy roads with the Commodores and Foghat alternately blaring out “Slow Ride” and “Just to be Close” as we lumbered over Wolf Creek, through the San Luis Valley, up the gun barrel and into the city.
When in Denver, we stayed at Weinmaster’s house, but only briefly.
We had things to do and people to see. I remember something about Figaro’s Pizza, and there may have been beer involved, though I hope not at the taxpayer’s expense.
We did, in the interest of education, make it to our prescribed appointment at the Broncos training facility.
It being the off season, there was not a lot of the big names hanging out but it was fun for us back-assed country hicks to get to see grid stars like Rob Lytle, Randy Gradishar, Joe Rizzo and Roland Hooks (Hooks was from the Buffalo Bills, as the professional training facilities were open to other teams through reciprocal agreements) in their various stages of repair.
I remember thinking, that Rizzo had tree trunks for legs, but Lytle (at 6’1”, 196 pounds) seemed to be almost a regular-sized cat. Lytle spent seven seasons with the Broncos and scored their only touchdown in Super Bowl XII. Back in the days of Red Miller.
Rizzo and Gradishar also played in Super Bowl XII as part of the Orange Crush Defense. Gradishar was with the Broncos for 10 seasons and still sells cars for Phil Long dealerships in Colorado.
Just so you know, in the true spirit of politics, that trip was over 30 years ago and you taxpayers are never getting your money back.
My version, I guess, of sticking it to The Man.

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