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Moment of Truth
Gary Smith
July 26, 1999
There was no action in the TCU locker room before the 1957 Cotton Bowl, but what Marvin Newman photographed there is as close to the essence of sports as anything that happens on a playing field.
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July 26, 1999

Moment Of Truth

There was no action in the TCU locker room before the 1957 Cotton Bowl, but what Marvin Newman photographed there is as close to the essence of sports as anything that happens on a playing field.

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Brown would finish with 132 yards on 26 carries, three kickoff returns for 96 more yards, three extra points, the whole country's admiration...and no slurs. "They were nice human beings," he'd say of the Frogs. But Chuck-a-luck, who finished 12 of 15 through the air, would see Brown speak at the University of Texas-Arlington years later and leave sniffing that "he sounded like one of those Black Panthers."

Toad would remember "floating" at the postgame banquet, thinking he was saved from a lifetime of negative thoughts, but in his 60s that extra point he missed in the '56 Cotton Bowl would still occupy his mind more than the four he made in '57, and every kick he watched on TV would make his foot twitch up, as if the kick were his.

TCU? The Frogs wouldn't win another bowl game for 41 years. The rules changed on Abe: Free substitution and the end of the two-way player meant that a college needed at least 22 studs, and that a small school with a scrawny budget and even less national TV exposure had almost no prayer, no matter how sincere its players were 15 minutes before kickoff. When Abe quit nine years later, people said the game had passed him by.

Come 1999, that bare locker room would no longer be a locker room, that Southwest Conference would no longer exist, and that New Year's Day game would be known as the Southwestern Bell Cotton Bowl Classic, with a Web site.

******

One last thing. There's a saying Texans used to share about men in locker rooms awaiting battle, and pardon my French, but it goes like this: Brave men piss, cowards s- - -.

Which were you? Which was I? Guess I just can't walk out of this picture without asking questions like that. But I'll shut up now, in case you want to go back and catch Chuck-a-luck going watery-eyed as he leads the team prayer. Hurry, though. It's going hard on nine minutes to one.

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