When Rolling Stone asked me to write an article about why I loved the Nebraska Cornhuskers, I thought about writing “Cornhuskers fucking rule” about eight-hundred times and calling it a day.
I didn’t do that. I did, however, fall into a YouTube hole of Husker clips from when I first became a fan in ’94 and ’95. I watched for a weird amount of hours, I got goose bumps when I heard the tunnel music and yelled “He is the truth” alone in my bedroom while watching Tommie Frazier complete “The Run.” I legit almost cried a few times. I realized that the Nebraska Cornhuskers football program means a lot to me – some people might think too much. Those people are dicks. It’s more than football to me; it was my childhood, it was my memories.
I moved to Nebraska from Waterloo, Iowa when I was 9 years old. I guess I was a Hawkeyes fan but the Hawks sucked asshole at football, so I really didn’t care, and truthfully, neither did the rest of the state. Nebraska was a different story though. People were bonkers for Big Red football. It wasn’t a game. It was a way of life and I was a foreigner in a strange land. So it was either chug the Big Red Kool-Aid or become ostracized. Since I was 9, I didn’t know what the word ostracized meant (still don’t, looked it up to sound smart) but I loved Kool-Aid, so I chugged that shit.
I had only been living in Omaha a few months when we won the first of many championships in the ’90s. I can remember the moment so vividly. After the win my newly acquired friends and I all piled into my mom’s minivan and went to downtown Omaha. It was a riot, but instead of setting things on fire and turning over cars (which happens in my new hometown of Los Angeles whenever a team wins a championship), people were dancing in the streets, college girls were flashing elementary school kids and everyone was drinking. My mother was clueless that my friends and I stole three Miller High Lifes from the cooler before we left the house. I was “drunk,” I saw breasts and my new team were national champs…I was a fan.
The following summer I rocked Nebraska clothing in a real way. My favorite piece was a Looney Tunes Nebraska shirt with all of the characters dressed up in Husker gear. Ballin’. I was riding my bike with my friends and sporting my fav Looney Tunes shirt when we decided to go buy some RazzMatazz suckers from the gas station to see whose tongue would turn the bluest. My friend Shane crossed the street first and yelled, “Come on.” He was pumped to eat sugar and meant “come on” as in “let’s go.” I took it to mean “the coast is clear” and ran across the street with my bicycle. I didn’t make it to the other side.
I woke up two weeks later in the hospital. My mom was there and explained to me that I was hit by a 32-ton cement truck. I was lucky to be alive and after many (26) surgeries I would be able to walk again. It was a several-year process to walk without the assistance of crutches. I was in a wheelchair for most of this time.
When football season rolled back around I was next-level pumped. By this point in my recovery I had watched every single Jean-Claude Van Damme movie in existence and there was little else for me to do. I wasn’t masturbating yet. I needed my Huskers. The ’95 season was amazing; they crushed every opponent on their way to back-to-back national championships. I felt like they were playing for me, a lil’ crippled boy cheering for the Huskers from his wheelchair.
Obviously they weren’t and I was just a prepubescent kid that thought the world revolved around him, but it gave me hope and that’s what I needed. As I would do my rehab, I remember thinking “I am training just like the Huskers. I am the 10-year-old Grant Wistrom.” But instead of training to destroy the offensive line, I was training to walk in a straight line without falling over.
Everyone has a reason they like their particular college football team. Mine is that the Huskers helped me through a time in my life that would have been unbearable without having Saturdays to look forward to. This past season the Huskers gave a young cancer patient, Jack Hoffman, a chance to live out his dream of being a Husker by scoring touchdown during the preseason “Red and White” game. The Huskers get it. They know the type of impact they can have on a young person going through a hard time. College football is more than a game – it’s the memories. But remember that your team sucks and the Cornhuskers fucking rule!