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When Four Seconds Mattered

Terence P. Jeffrey on

Some people might think that sitting high up in the end zone of a college football stadium is not a good place to watch a game. They would be wrong.

The ultimate strategic goal of every football team in every game they play is simple: Score more than the other team.

That makes the goal line and the goal post the key locations on the field -- and both sit at the end of the field. To score, a team must either put the ball across the goal line or kick it through the uprights.

To accomplish either, it needs to engage in offensive maneuvers designed, play by play, to move the ball toward its opponent's goal line.

A fan sitting on the 50-yard line whose position requires him to look across the field does not see the game from the same perspective as the players moving up and down it.

A fan sitting in the end zone can see each play, and the defense against it, unfold or fail to unfold as they were actually designed.

 

When I was growing up, my father brought me and other family members to every Stanford University Cardinal home game, where we usually sat high in the north end zone of Stanford's old stadium. There we saw great quarterbacks -- including the Heisman Trophy winning Jim Plunkett -- lead Stanford teams to memorable victories.

When Stanford was not playing at home on a fall Saturday, we would go see the University of California Bears play at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.

And one game we never missed was the Big Game, when Cal and Stanford played each other.

Thus, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving in 1982, when I was a year out of college and was living with my parents in the Bay Area, I went with my father to see John Elway's Stanford team play Cal at Memorial Stadium.

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