on Sports
Headstones Tops the
                                          “Rock”? by StanSilliman humor
                                          sports comedy cartoons


Silliman on Sports
By Stan Silliman
Headstones Tops the “Rock”?

“Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it… tell them to go in there with all they’ve got and win one for the Gipper. I don’t know where I will be then, Rock. But I’ll know about it, and I’ll be happy.”

You recognize this speech, right? The dying George Gipp tells Knute Rockne to fire up his team
immortalized in a movie scene with Ronald Reagan as Gipp.

Now let’s reset the scene to 2011. George Gipp is not dying but rather a high school junior varsity player on one of the worst teams ever, the Marcellus (N.Y) Mustangs. The Mustangs are so inept they just lost to Skaneateles.

Have you even heard of Skaneateles? No? Well, don’t feel alone because very few others had also and Marcellus is so bad they lost to a never-heard-of team.  Now pretend you’re George Gipp, good enough to someday play for Notre Dame, and you’ve just been embarrassed by Skaneateles. How do you inspire the coach to motivate the players to rise up from the sorry trash pile of ballplayers they’ve become and salvage their season. After all, you can’t play the dying card.
Here’s what you do. Whisper to your coach – Jim Marsh -- as you’re driving home on the team bus that you’re about to pass a cemetery and it’s a chance to make a statement. Maybe the coach will stop and say something about the corpses. Maybe he’ll say your season’s not dead like the people in their resting places. Maybe he can dredge up some kind of speech that might make a difference. We know it’s only JV but maybe Marsh can be the Rockne of junior varsity football. After all, he’s also an English teacher and quite familiar with literature. 

Does Jim Marsh stop the Marcellus bus? Yes, George, it appears you inspired him.  Does he make a speech? Yes, he does. Does he make the two dozen players exit the bus, walk into the cemetery and lay down on the graves while giving his speech? Yes, he… wait a moment! That’s not what you intended, was it, George? For Coach Marsh to make the guys lie down over the dead people and say something like “the people underneath would cherish the opportunity to trade places with you players and fight to win.”

George, he didn’t go that far, did he? He did? Oh, gee, you need to be careful in this coach inspiration business. You can’t let the guy go all Jackie Sherill on them.  George, it’s one thing to have a guy deliver a speech next to a cemetery, but on the graves, lying on the grass?  Mr. Gipp, you must be more specific in what you ask for.

Need I remind you about Jackie Sherill, George? After your time? Sorry, but Jackie would take his Mississippi State players out to a working cattle ranch and make them watch the bulls get castrated.

Motivation? I’m not sure. Trying to prove it takes a pair to play winning football? You only get a couple of opportunities and you could lose them? Be grateful you’re a football playing human being and not a bull?

Headstones Tops the “Rock”? by
                              StanSilliman humor sports comedy cartoons
Sometimes coaches get a little carried away on this motivation thing. Sometimes they’re a little goofy. Did you have any idea Coach Marsh might conceive lying on graves drives home a more explicit

We think it’s foolish and you can relay that to Mr. Marsh, George (If you were you and we weren’t just using you metaphorically). First thing, it’s a “duh” to say the people buried underneath would cherish the opportunity. Heck yes, if a dead person gets a chance to trade positions with a living person, football player or otherwise, he’ll jump at it.  If the Mustangs can’t see through that, they’re pretty dumb and  don’t deserve to win any games. Secondly, a team of zombies would be very slow, excruciatingly slow and more than likely would do worse than the Mustangs. Strike that. For certain, they’d do worse. You’ll never make a zombie into a cornerback.

George, bless your metaphorical soul, but I can’t believe you as a muse climbed inside Marsh’s head and suggested such a lame idea.  With this kind of record, I’m starting to think maybe Knute misquoted you for his purposes. You probably said something like “Knute, I’m in a lot of pain. Maybe I should have never played football.” And Knute answers “George, I don’t think I’m going to tell the guys that. I’ll think of something else.”


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