Winning Is Everything


"Gentlemen, you are about to play football for Yale against Harvard. Never in your life will you do anything as important."

--T.A.D. Jones, Yale football coach, circa 1920

I have never seen Harvard beat Yale in a football game.

You see, in my freshman year, I considered it more important to stay in Cambridge over Yale weekend and work on a 35-page paper.

T.A.D. Jones must be rolling in his grave after hearing that one.


I still remember climbing the stairs to the room of a friend who had the Michigan-Ohio State game on the TV, and seeing the Harvard score suddenly flashed on the screen.

Harvard, 22-7.

The undefeated Elis had been vanquished. They were the champs, but Victory was ours.

May I burn in hell forever, I thought.

I remember, too, that the first piece of victory to arrive in the Yard was one of the Yale Bowl uprights, courtesy of a bunch of the guys who lived in my dorm. They displayed it proudly in their living room for all to see.

Everyone else drifted in at various times during the night and on into Sunday morning, each with the same special tale: the undefeated Elis had been ours.

I sat at dinner in the Union for days after, nodding my head and saying. "Uh-huh, Uh-huh," as others replayed the day's events again and again. I admitted to very few that I hadn't been there.

I vowed to be there the next time.

I might just as well have stayed at home. Sophomore year at the Stadium, with Harvard quarterback Brian Buckley chuckling musk-melons, proved to be a joke. There were no surprises: Yale was better; Yale won. The end of the game is something of a blur, but I do remember being on the field before the game was over. My intent was to protect the goal-posts from a fate similar to that which the Eli uprights had suffered the year before. "Fight fiercely, men," I cried, and headed into the fray in the end gone.

We gathered aoround the posts and readied for a charge from the enemy. Upon seeing the guy on my left flank go down hard after a right to the chin, however, the goalposts passed quickly from my mind. I figured 9,999 men was enough and headed for cover in the hordes of alumni leaving the stands. The goalposts went down shortly thereafter, as did several more of the troops.