It was a terrible, no good, awful night for Bear worshippers. The mighty Furred Beasts, playing the lowly Horn Frogs in their annual football spectacle, were left declawed, skinned of their fur, and lay gasping in the wet and slimy turf in Forth Worth, home of the Frogs.

It was a sight that would make grown Waco men cry, their women moan as if in labor, and one young teenage boy’s heart broken, leaving him unable to function normally for several days.

Yes, the mighty Bears now need a taxidermist to make them whole once more: some dry rot repair epoxy, some casting resin, and a year to become complete again. The sorrow is far-reaching, as if the Brazos River flooded the Magnolia Store or the Baylor parking garage burned down.

Young men of the football squad, once adored and worshipped by their admirers, now must hang their heads and pretend that they are coaches for Little League baseball, where it is acceptable to lose—at least once in a while.

The Bear’s fans had expected so much: a big 12 Championship, perhaps a chance to be in the National Playoffs, pictures of their heroes in Sports Illustrated. Instead, their blurred photos appear on the back page of the Waco Tribune-Herald with weak headlines like “Bears in hibernation at Fort Worth”; “Bears stuffed at Frog’s taxidermy turf”, and so on. The shame has descended on the city like fog in London, only in London the fog will lift—here the shame will linger and smell like a backed-up sink for a long time.

I am afraid to speak to my 13 year old grandson about the game. He is liable to lash out at me, throw his foam football at me, or go to his room as a sullen, shocked and defeated aficionado. It is as if he threw the interceptions, fumbled the ball, fell on his face in the mud. In fact, if I look carefully, I can see the stains on his pants, the grass still lodged in his ears, the cold, icy water trickling down his forehead. It has been a terrible, no good awful time for him and he cannot go to Australia to get away from his pains.

I am trying to figure out what I can do to revive him. I thought of buying a miniature bear pelt, one he could put under his pillow at night. He could stroke its fur and pretend that he had just thrown a beautiful spiral pass to Coleman in the end zone. By dreaming with his toy bear, Baylor would win every game by at least 3 touchdowns.

But I can’t find any bear pelts on-line, although I have found a site called “How to skin a bear”. I think that is the one the Horn Frogs read before the game.

Well, just wait until next year. Our quarterbacks won’t get hurt, our halfbacks will run every play for 15 yards and our fullbacks will each weigh at least 400 pounds. We will also introduce a new play, using an eighth back, something that no football team has ever used before. And, instead of the pistol or shotgun formation, we will go to the AK 47 and leave opponents bodies all over the field. It will be X-Box live on the football field.

Of course, the officials won’t like it and the Rules Committee will introduce obscure, hard-to-interpret paragraphs in the Rule Book that will require every play to be reviewed. Games will last all day instead of three hours and there will need to be three bands that rotate in and out like the players do.

It may be a dream, but the Horn Frogs won’t have a chance next year. Their coach will be traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for a cheerleader, and their quarterback will demand a new house for his mother, a car for his brother, and high passes for all his subjects.

The Bears won’t do that: their coach will stay on, accepting the modest five million dollar increase in his salary; the band will acquire new uniforms and all instruments will be painted green. The new stadium may allow Frogs on the turf, but most of them will become tailgate nourishment.

However, for the present we must weep with those who weep, dance with those who dance, and hope that the Bear’s claws will regrow again.

Karl Franklin
November 28, 2015