Our John Deere 6600 Combine rolled slowly up and down the corn rows that rustled in the late October breeze. As a little girl, I curled up on the floor to ride with dad as he brought in the bounty of the season. And if it was as a Saturday, we tuned into 880AM and did what every other farmer was doing. We tuned in and listened as the work went on. We listened to our beloved Cornhuskers.
Throughout those years we won a lot of games. We also lost a lot of games. If it was a Saturday in fall you would hear the game wherever you were. In the cafe, on the tractor, if lucky you might get to watch them on TV, and the rural radios were all tuned in. Family members had T-shirt’s and sweatshirts. They were handed down to younger siblings as new ones were received for birthdays or Christmas. There is a reason why we still refer to the “sea of red”. But Memorial Stadium is not where it all begins and ends. Because the Cornhuskers are the pride of ALL Nebraska.
It’s difficult to summarize why we Nebraskans care so much about a team that takes to a field under the bright lights in Lincoln. Many outsiders would say its all about the “win” and most would agree that those are awful nice. But the tried and true Nebraskans see it as so much more.
Pride. Tradition. Culture. Family. Fun. Team. And in my youth, a belief that ANY dream could come true for a Nebraska kid who had heart and talent. There was nothing more special than seeing a roster made up of kids from Nebraska, especially when they listed their hometowns that included places like Brainard,Hyannis, St. Paul, Tecumseh, and Wood River.
Perhaps it’s because I have become nostalgic in recent years as technology and the never ending TV cycle has removed some of the community that was formed when old farmers sat around the coffee shop to break it all down on Monday morning. Some times I think the focus has become more on a “star” than a team, or maybe it’s that the ticket prices have made it difficult to get a whole family into a game, but at the end of the day the love and affection for the boys of fall clings tightly to all that was laid down over the last many years to unite us as one people. And if you walk around Memorial Stadium looking for the trophies and accolades, you will first look at the likeness of a young man who was a back up quarterback, who lived with character and integrity, who was a young man lost too soon, who was respected for reasons that all surpassed winning games.
And that is why the Nebraska Cornhuskers are the pride of all Nebraska. Because for every Saturday of every fall, we are reminded that what brings us together in fun and fellowship are the things that last, and the things make this a great state for all time.