This is Not the Greatest Quarterback in the World. This is Just a Tribute.
I’ve got a confession to make: I’m a Taylor Martinez fan. I celebrate the guy’s entire catalog. And because Friday is his Senior Day, I thought it fitting to send him off the right way. And after that, I have some thoughts on our mercurial field general. But first, a tribute to the crazy diamond:
Taylor Martinez is a Certified Ridiculous Human Being. Just think about this. Remember the 2010 season opener, and the salacious rumor that Bo Pelini might start an unheralded freshman burner at quarterback? It turned out to be true, and all Martinez did was gash defenses left and right and left again - including Kansas State, whose fans used their “power towels” to wipe away their salty tears. Anyone who makes Kansas State sad is a friend of mine. I liked Taylor from the start. We all did, if you remember. We dreamt of Heismans, conference titles, maybe even a national run. Finally, we had the right set of wheels. We had a chance. In 6 weeks we went from not knowing who Taylor was to putting the weight of 1995 on him.
Like so many things in the Bo Pelini era, nothing really went as planned. Ankle injuries, throwing motions, turnovers, “turf toe.” Breathtaking highs, baffling lows and ridiculous interviews. But Pelini-era disappointments usually carry a silver lining, and this is no exception.
Four years ago, a California kid that nobody wanted as their quarterback came to play football in the middle of nowhere. He arrived at the end of 10 years of dormancy. And no, he didn’t lead us to the promised land. But he showed us what it looked like. He won games, broke records, made us bite our nails and brought us to our feet. He made us wonder how high we could go. Every year, the BCS seemed like a possibility. And for a fan base so disillusioned by a decade of mediocrity, that’s worth something.
We watched him bounce right up from 99% of the bone-crushing hits laid on him. We also watched him bounce back from all the negativity, the heckling, the questions and the scrutiny. And then, to top it off, he called his little brother and said, “You’re gonna love this place.” And also, probably, “Yes, they have a laser tag arena and I got you a season pass.”
Getting up after getting hit makes you a football player. What Taylor did makes you a Husker.
Look, I’m not here to make some grand philosophical statement about what Taylor embodies in all of us, or what he symbolizes to the program. That’s silly. I just love football. And the Huskers are my favorite team. And you know what I learned about Taylor Martinez in four years? He loves football, too. And this is his favorite team. And he had every reason to abandon both of those things, and didn’t. Maybe that is something to learn from. Something to remember next time the sky appears to be falling.
If nothing else, it’s a good reason to cheer like hell on Friday when they call his name. I know I will. He’s earned it.
Thanks for four great years, fuckwad. Good luck out there.