The 1929 event was a Rose Bowl game, which was perhaps the most exciting college football game that was played throughout the year. The two teams that played on New Year’s day in 1929 were Georgia Tech and California. During the last minutes of of the second quarter, there was a jarring tackle at midfield. The football spurted up in the air and came down into the arms of a California linebacker by the name of Roy Regals. He took a firm grip on the ball, reversed his field position, zig-zagged , and headed for daylight. The extreme delight of a football player’s heart is to see daylight between him and the goalpost. And with cheering audience, and all the excitement, Roy did not realize that he was headed in the wrong direction. But just before he crossed the goal line, one of his own team mates tackled him. A few plays later, Georgia Tech got possession of the ball and good field position , and went on to score and later on , win the game, eight to seven. Roy was very dejected, and very humiliated. He promptly left the field and went into the locker room and hid back of the lockers. The next morning in bold print, the newspapers carried the account of the great mistake that Roy made.
But there was one sports reporter in the stadium that day who noticed in Roy something that nobody ever noticed. During the second half, he played the most inspiring football of his entire career. His tackles were vicious, and his blocking was firm and crisp. The reporter found his way to Roy after the game and wondered what it was that inspired him to continue playing the best football of his career. Roy shared it like this:
‘‘At the time of the mistake, I was headed for the lockers and there I sat ,back of the lockers, keeping myself out of view of everyone ,even thinking about taking my own life. And then at halftime when the coach and the rest of the squad came in for the break, it wasn’t long until Clarence Price, who was the coach of the team, started calling out the starting lineup. When he got to center, he called Roy’s name. And it was at this time that Roy came out from back of the lockers.
‘‘I-I-I c-c-can’t coach.’’ And then the coach said to him, ‘‘But you are very important part of this football team. We need you. The team needs you. Now you go out there and give the very best you can.’’ Roy said at this time, when he realized that Clarence still believed in him, he had no other choice but to go out and give it the very best he had.
I don’t know how often you may have fumbled the ball, and headed in the wrong direction. Sometimes we spend too much time fretting about our past failures and neglects and frustrations, and we brood over these errors to the point that it really stifles our enthusiasm for the future.