Epilogue

The Carter Cowboys eventually win the State Championship and their players are heavily courted by various colleges and universities. They are promised everything from credit cards to cars. They are given girls when the visit the various campuses. They are taken to strip joints for entertainment. They are offered anything and everything. That’s why it’s ironic when Derric Evans and Gary Edwards commit their first armed robbery in May of 1989. They commit a total of seven robberies in the space of a month before they are arrested. Their only motive is that they did it for kicks. Public opinion once again breaks along racial lines, whites finding justification for their feelings about these blacks and blacks praying that some mercy would be given to these supremely talented players. Unfortunately, Derric is sentenced to twenty years in prison and Gary to sixteen. Marshall Gandy, the prosecutor on the case, wonders what real favor had been done to these kids by placing them on a golden pedestal. He insists that they all treated these boys like children while they were in high school so how can we expect them to act any other way.

Brian Chavez applies to Harvard and is accepted. When the football coach requests a game film to analyze his talent, Gaines sends the wrong film, one that is Brian’s worst game of the season. He defends himself by saying it was an accident. His father is angry, but Brian is deeply hurt, considering the sacrifices he had made to play for Permian. He goes out for football at Harvard anyway, but finds it hard to adjust to crowds that are so small. He can’t forget the glory of Permian, and he decides that his purpose at Harvard isn’t football. There are more important goals he wants to accomplish.

Jerrod McDougal tries to adjust to a life without Permian football. But it’s difficult. He toys with the idea of traveling to Australia, but ends up in the fall of 1989 working for his father. He says there isn’t a day that he doesn’t think about football, not an hour. He feels like he is part of the “has-been” club. When the teams play again the fall after he graduates, he is there to see them finally beat Midland Lee. At the end of the game, he runs out on the field and hugs one of the players, and for just that brief moment, he is back where he wants to be.

Don Billingsley splits up with his father after the season ends. He returns to Blanchard to live with his mother and stepfather after graduation. Unfortunately, he continues to drink heavily. Then, by the time the summer of 1989 rolls around, he finds religion and is baptized in July. This is also brought about when he hears a former Permian player commits suicide. He sometimes wonders what his life would have been like if he had stayed in Oklahoma and never gone to school in Permian, but he never regrets his Permian experience even though going back into the locker room is a negative experience. He doesn’t belong anymore.

Mike Winchell, despite setting career records at Permian, is not offered a single scholarship. He believes that recruiters see him as a typical Permian player – disciplined, well-trained, but with all the talent already drawn from him. He analyzes himself over and over and realizes that part of the problem at the Carter game was his own lack of belief in his abilities. That is the price he has paid for having to be so careful and watch out for himself ever since he had been a little boy.

Ivory Christian is offered a football scholarship by Texas Christian University. He is the only player on the team recruited by a Division I school. But he finds that playing for a college team doesn’t have the same magic as playing for Permian. He eventually decides that football isn’t what he wants. Instead, he decides to major in criminal justice and become a policeman someday. He does miss the glory of Permian, but he seems to finally find a life after football.

Boobie Miles moves back with uncle, L.V. before Christmas in 1988. He receives a scholarship from Ranger Junior College in Ranger, Texas. It is still impossible for him not to wonder what might have happened if he hadn’t been hurt. However, he refuses to be negative. He puts all his effort into playing well for Ranger, but even though he does everything he uncle taught him, it isn’t enough. He no longer has the burst of speed he once had, and he won’t put his shoulder down and just run. He is buried by the Navarro Bulldogs, so he turns to the only strength he’s ever had: his Uncle L.V.

As for Odessa, her fate lays in the hands of others. She is still rated the second worst place to live with the worst health care in the country. Nevertheless, life goes on as normal.

Finally, the looks on the faces of the next team could have been those of Brian Chavez, Mike Winchell, or Jerrod McDougal. Everything seems unchanged. Mike Belew meets with the defensive ends and Gary Gaines meets with the entire team and the words are all the same: about how hard they have worked, how they need to believe in themselves, how they represent a lot of people. Then, they hear the screams of MOJO! MOJO once more and they take the field. The Permian Panthers end the decade exactly they way they began it. They win the State Football Championship two days before Christmas in 1989.

Notes

This chapter emphasizes how the Permian football program, like many more in Texas, chews up its players, spits them out at graduation, and moves onto the next team, the next set of heroes. It is a sad commentary on the priorities of our country when it comes to football or education and how the needs of the people of a depressed community use their children to give them something to live for. It makes the reader wonder if there is a real answer, given that from one season to the next, nothing ever changes.

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