By Jim Ross --- At Wrestlemania 17, the WWE sold out the Houston Astrodome with the largest crowd in the history of the building. During a particularly emotional sports-entertainment moment, fan favorite Stone Cold Steve Austin experienced a fate not unique to the genre, which yours truly reacted to with exasperation.
My broadcast partner, Jerry "The King" Lawler, profoundly told me that "One can't grieve forever, J.R." Adrian Peterson's broken collarbone isn't a show biz moment, but the term "one can't grieve forever" is still applicable.
Like thousands of OU football fans, I have had better weekends. On my flight to Los Angeles Sunday morning from OKC, and on the ensuing red-eye back the same evening, my body insisted on sleep but my mind kept racing "What now for the Sooners?" Sleep finally won over on the Chicago to OKC leg and on the drive from the Will Rogers Airport back to Norman. I started thinking about all the positives of being a fan of Bob Stoops' Oklahoma Football team and I started feeling better about the entire, unfortunate situation. Hell, we won our game against Iowa State. Snap out of it J.R.!
For the record, Adrian Peterson cannot be replaced. But AD can be substituted for.
This Saturday night, Allen Patrick and Jacob Gutierrez, two of the hardest working Sooners on the squad, get a chance to live their dreams. The circumstances to which these opportunities are realized are unfortunate, but they are real. Before another sellout crowd of 85,000 plus, two players who have stood in AD's prominent shadow will get the chance to help Oklahoma win a key Big 12 game that I feel will be much more competitive than many experts, and will essentially be a dogfight against the Colorado Buffalos.
Anyone who has ever been to an OU practice knows that Patrick is ripped and physical. Perhaps in those areas AP is AD-lite. I called a friend this week that lives in South Carolina and was familiar with Patrick's high school and Allen's career, who told me that Patrick had a well-earned reputation of being physically tough verging on being downright nasty.
We have seen hints of Patrick's physicality on special teams all year. He has become the 2006 version of Russell Dennison on special teams, a headhunter. AD will have his roommate, Patrick, ready to rock come Saturday night. Patrick had a legitimate Slobber-Knocker of a hit on special teams against ISU.
Jacob Gutierrez is one of the finest kids to ever pass through the program, as is evidenced by his tireless work with kids as a volunteer in a variety of projects. Jacob has mentored many kids in the Norman area and is a credit to the University. Gute is also the physically strongest player on the football team.
With Quinton Griffin-like tendencies, no one has to worry about Gute's effort or familiarity with the offense. No one that I have met over the many years following this program deserves this opportunity as does Jacob Gutierrez. Call me overtly old school, but I do believe that good things happen to good people.
Wednesday afternoon I attended Adrian Peterson's press conference at the stadium where he addressed his physical condition and immediate plans. The NFL was not discussed, as was pre-determined prior to the press conference, and rightfully so in my opinion. It doesn't take a Mensa member to realize AD is going to be in the next NFL draft, but that event doesn't occur until April of 2007.
Contrary to what many in the local media feel, I totally disagree that AD should never play another game at OU, even if he is healthy, to save himself for the millions of dollars No. 28 will receive for simply signing his first contract with an NFL team.
Obviously, AD should not play again at OU if he is not 100 percent healthy. But if AD gets a complete doctor's release and the Sooners have games left to play, I am of the belief AD should play.
More importantly, that is exactly how Adrian feels.
Peterson knows the big, NFL money is waiting, but the relationships he has built with his teammates and coaches at the University of Oklahoma have an expiration date on the carton. Sure, AD will always be a Sooner, and a rich one at that, but these next few months going to the Switzer Center, attending meetings, working out, and being around his friends will soon end.
These relationships are very important to arguably the greatest running back ever to don the Crimson and Cream. How many of us would give a pretty penny to be able to go back and play just one game with our old high school football team, much less those that may read this that had the privilege of playing college football? Adrian loves OU Football and the experience he has had at the University. Those are AD's words, not mine.
Adrian is still attending the running back meetings, attending practices, and spending quality time with his teammates in his desire to continue to contribute to the success of the 2006 Oklahoma Sooner Football team. AD will no doubt be on the sideline for every Sooner game until the magnificent one can play again.
Mother Nature and AD's teammates will have a great deal to say about us diehards seeing No. 28 in an OU uniform again. Lord knows the Sooners deserve a break somewhere along the line this season.
Sooner fans are burning up the message boards and sports talk radio speculating about what the offense is going to look like this Saturday night against Dan Hawkins' Colorado, team that is much better than their record (1-6) indicates. I haven't been "spying" on the Buffs, but I assume Colorado is speculating as well. I think that is a good thing.
One key, as always, is the OU offensive line. As the O-line goes so may go the Sooners. The reduced amount of non-contact penalties by the O-line last week was refreshing. Give us some more of that.
Fifth-year senior Paul Thompson will not panic, nor will the QB allow his teammates to not be focused on the task at hand. OU's play-calling last week was masterful and we could expect to see even more offensive balance this week. I loved the fact we threw the ball so much on first down last week or so it seemed. We took what the defense gave us. Expect the same Saturday night.
Defensively, the Sooners have improved greatly since giving up 500 yards against Oregon, as Brent Venables' crew has given up only 188 yards per game in the last three games.
The defense creating three and outs and remaining stingy on third down plays will win games. The defensive "playmakers" were "playmakers" against Iowa State. There was a renewed swagger to this talented unit and the team seemed to be more aggressive and reactive for four quarters than at any other time this season.
If the defense can continue to step up, continue to improve and eliminate any big plays by a Colorado team that will feed off "hope", we will all be happy with the outcome Saturday night. But I still think this game will be a fist fight.
Hopefully, the students will return after several hundred no showed last Saturday for the 11:30 a.m. kickoff, and we can all make enough noise and bring some extra passion to create a hostile, home field advantage for the Sooners. Along with a jacket, don't forget to bring an ample supply of "Sooner Magic".
One can't grieve forever.
Editor's Note: J.R.'s Sooner Slobber-Knocker merchandise and BBQ sauces at www.jrsbarbq.com.
Ross: One can't grieve forever
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