Decided to go with something a little lighter and more uplifting than usual for this week’s Running Iron Report column. If you can call broken bones and a torn scrotum “light and uplifting.”
Blame Rullman and my brother John.
Last Sunday, Craig and Pete Rathbun and I sat down at the Figure 8 to record a podcast on “Stories The Shaped Us” — a first-in-a-series. I talked about Allan W. Eckert’s magnificent book, The Frontiersmen, which tells the remarkable tale of Revolutionary War-era Kentucky Frontier Partisan Simon Kenton. Craig was especially fascinated with the ordeal Kenton was put through after his capture by Shawnee Indians in 1778. The Shawnee beat the ever-lovin’ shit out of Kenton over a period of weeks, after capturing him trying to steal their horses. Their plan was to burn him alive as an act of ritual vengeance for war losses — and entertainment.
Thanks to a remarkable constitution, extreme mental toughness and some providential good fortune, Kenton survived being spat on and shat on, suffering multiple broken bones, contusions and the mental torment of being signed, sealed and delivered to become a human torch. Not only did he survive; he escaped and went back on his own personal warpath for the next two decades or so.
Muy hombre, that guy.
On Monday night, Washington Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy came up with a broken fibula after a sack. McCoy was in because Alex Smith had suffered a horrific break to both fibula and tibia in a previous game. McCoy didn’t come out after he broke his leg – he played two more downs and completed a couple of passes before limping off to the locker room.
My brother John mentioned this in an email, because it is well to salute splendid and manly behavior whenever it is witnessed.
And that led to reminiscences of the great LA Rams defensive end, Jack Youngblood.
“File this one under Manliest Moments in NFL History. Perhaps even Manliest Moments in History. Jack Youngblood oozed a tough-guy aura on and off the field, but never was that more apparent than when he played in the playoffs, Super Bowl — and Pro Bowl — with a broken leg.”
The author of that piece noted that there was nothing at stake in the Pro Bowl. Youngblood played on a broken leg because that’s what a badass does. And Jack Youngblood was a beautiful badass. Love that dude.
However, John pointed out:
“No one ever will top Wayne Shelford.”
This may be true. Even Kenton’s ordeal does not generate the autonomic squirm response that Shelford’s epic display of *ahem* balls-out badassery generates.
Shelford played in the epic 1986 “Battle of Nantes,” when the French National rugby squad took on New Zealand’s All Blacks in what is widely regarded as the most intense rugby match ever played. He got caught at the bottom of a ruck and got three teeth kicked out. He got knocked out cold. And he took a boot to the nuts that produced a horrific injury — the cleat tore open his scrotum, leaving a testicle hanging in the wind. He played like that and didn’t discover how badly he was hurt until later.
Stuff it back, stitch it up… you’ll be fine.
Enjoy his description of the game below.
“These sorts of things do happen, and you’ve just got to play on.”
Words to live by, by Crom!