Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Hit

Michael Robinson

The Hit

It's funny how we all remember special moments in time. Certain images so searing they put a lasting imprint in your mind. You remember where you were. What you were wearing. Who was with you. Last year when Michael Robinson lowered his head and layed out Minnesota safety Brandon Owens (hereafter referred to as The Hit) was one of those moments.

I was at home in Phoenixville watching the play on television that day. I remember Owens lowering his shoulder and Robinson lowering his head. I remember Owens' body going limp as MRob stood over him glaring on the sideline. I remember calling my uncle, who was at the game, to say "Did you see that?" Later on in the season I, along with all of Penn State Nation, came to look at The Hit as a defining moment for the team. Before The Hit, Penn State seemed unsure of themselves. We struggled more than we should have against South Florida. We had barely escaped Northwestern with a win the week before. Michael Robinson was a turnover machine. We were 4-0, but before The Hit, we felt lucky more than good.

They say perception is reality. The Hit changed the perception of Michael Robinson and the team. The Hit said, we're going to fight for every yard. The Hit said Michael Robinson is tougher than anyone on your team. The Hit made us believe. The Hit said Penn State is back and we're not the Big Ten doormat anymore. After The Hit, Penn State went from pretender to contender.

In speaking of The Hit, Michael Robinson said, "I didn't think he was gonna hit me that hard. It kind of scared me a little bit. I saw him and I was like, 'Let me just buckle up, hold on to the ball and try to stay up.' I didn't know he was gonna go down like that. I hope he's OK."

Sadly, Brandon Owens is not OK. Seven months after The Hit, his arm is still in a sling after surgery in January to repair nerve damage. He will sit out and redshirt in 2006, but most likely his football career is over. I don't wish harm on any Penn State opponent. I wish every player that suited up in Beaver Stadium could go home as healthy as they came in. But injuries are part of football. Owens is a tough kid, and he has the respect of the entire Penn State Nation for his toughness on and off the field. I hope he goes on to get healthy and be successful in whatever he pursues. But man, that was some hit.

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