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For fear of talking too much about the University of Nebraska Football team, I have abstained from writing articles about them this college football season … until now.

One of the signs at the Memorial Stadium reads: Through these gates pass the greatest fans in College football.  Not many who have been to Lincoln for a game since 1962 would argue that fact.

A very remarkable event took place in Lincoln, Nebraska this past Saturday.  The Nebraska Cornhuskers hosted their 300th consecutive sell out football game.

To just about everyone outside of Nebraska, this seems like a whole lot to do about nothing.  I mean what the hell is there to do in Nebraska anyway other than on football Saturdays?  It is a boring state to drive through on Interstate 80, not a lot of people live there … they have the only Unicameral legislature in the country … so what is the big deal?

Nebraska Football is one common thread that brings the entire state an identity.  On the National scene, people from all over the U.S. recognize “Nebraska” and “Cornhusker Football” as one and the same entity.  It is truly something that the people of Nebraska take great pride in.

It all started in 1962 … and not at the beginning of the season.  The upstart Cornhuskers under then first year head coach Bob Devaney sold out Memorial Stadium and promptly were beaten by the Missouri Tigers.  But before he was done, Devaney had built a national powerhouse of college football.  A perennial winner.  He won two National titles, and Tom Osborne would later add three in four years.

Next closest on the sell out list … The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, but they are about 15 sold out years behind as their current streak stands at 207 … that helps to put it into context.

The Cornhusker faithful endured some harsh times of late in what the locals call “The Bill Callahan Era”.  The first non-bowl season in a couple generations.  The first losing season since, well … Bob Devaney came to town.

But the people still came … (insert your voiceover of James Earl Jones in Field Of Dreams here …)

People will come Ray, They’ll come to Lincoln for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll come into Memorial Stadium, not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They arrive looking for the Huskers, all as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, buy a Fairbury Brand Hot Dog or a Runza you’ll say. It’s only $4 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and Valentino’s pizza they lack … And they’ll walk up to the bleachers and sit in their short sleeves on a perfect fall afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere in the South end zone where they sat when they were students, and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game, and it’ll be as if they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces … People will come, Ray … The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been the Cornhuskers. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers; it has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But the Cornhuskers have marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Ohhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come …

Congratulations Nebraska on truly a remarkable achievement. Not the victory, but the action; Not the goal, but the game; In the deed, the glory.

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Johnny Goodman writes a weekly sports column for The Soap Boxers. His articles can be found in The Goodman File.

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