Saturday, January 28, 2017
Handling the Moment
As published in The County Times (countytimes.somd.com)
By Ronald N. Guy Jr.
Bob Dylan came to me in a dream. We were seated at an ornate iron table, just the two of us, under a trellis in an outdoor garden. Despite the serene setting, I was nervous, but maintained a calm façade. My mind was racing (Bob Freaking Dylan!!!). Be cool, I thought. Don’t disintegrate into fan-boy mode. Act like you belong. Act like this is just another afternoon with greatness. Act like you’re not flirting with incontinence.
My rational brain was confident that I could handle this extraordinary moment. I’m no expert, but I know music pretty well and I’m respectably conversant in Dylan-speak. It helped that my dream delivered a 40-something version of the legend – a peer; the brilliant, young and enigmatic Dylan at his creative zenith or the current grandfatherly Dylan, fresh off receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature, would have been far more intimidating. I had another ally: The copious amounts of adult elixirs we had consumed. The mental lubrication arrested my anxiety and tempered the annoyance Dylan would have otherwise felt toward his strange, unworthy acquaintance.
Dylan can be a tough conversation; he communicates best with mere mortals through music or written word. For some reason, my unconscious mind had put me one-on-one with him – hilarious (not really). There wasn’t even a background band to critique or fill the inevitable pauses in our conversation while I fished for engaging queries. I’m my own worst enemy apparently.
But I did okay. Dylan was polite and captivating. He was unmistakably pleased to be talking to me about his poetic music and place in history. I know, I know…”How can the life of such a man be in the palm of some fool’s hand?” Maybe I fooled him by how good my head felt under my “leopard skin pill-box hat”?
Had this crazy dream been reality, it wouldn’t have gone so well. The moment would have proven too big. I would have lost my poise and Dylan’s graciousness would have run short. Departing Dylan’s company with a signed “Blonde on Blonde” record and dry pants – if not my dignity - would have constituted a victory.
I was reminded of my imaginary Dylan encounter on Thanksgiving Day while watching a much younger man flawlessly handling a much bigger, more significant and very real NFL moment.
This is going to hurt.
QB Dak Prescott, a fourth round selection of the Dallas Cowboys in the April NFL Draft, is (unfortunately for rival fans) re-writing the recent trajectory of the franchise. After starter Tony Romo and backup Kellen Moore were injured in the preseason, Prescott, originally envisioned as a third-string project, was thrust into a starting role.
Panic initially swept through Cowboys camp. A season seemed lost and a trade inevitable. Rumors swirled about Dallas acquiring embattled San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick. At the time, the reaction and scuttlebutt were understandable: It was unfair to expect Prescott, despite a name right out of central casting, to be the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, one of the most glamourous and scrutinized positions in professional sports.
The situation should have consumed the young Prescott; it most certainly has not. In 11 starts, Prescott has averaged 258 yards passing per game, completed 68% of his passes, thrown 18 touchdowns and only two interceptions, rushed for five scores and notched 10 wins. That’s not human for a rookie fourth round pick; it’s a Tom Brady stat line.
No one saw this coming. Entering the draft, Prescott wasn’t considered NFL-ready. His NFL.com draft report was unflattering: slow reads, poor footwork and inconsistent accuracy. Prescott’s ceiling in 2016 was said to be limited to short-yardage packages.
Yeah…he’s been a little better than that - like, in-the-MVP-conversation better. From his first opportunity, Prescott has produced and calmed a cataclysmic situation. His poise has been remarkable; his lack of drama or need for unnecessary attention – his professionalism - has been refreshing; his performance has been amazing.
Prescott provides an inspiring story for anyone facing an overwhelming challenge. Unfortunately, because he plays for the Cowboys, it isn’t a work of fiction, such as a novel, a movie or a dream.