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and they drive three hours east(4)

Time:2017-10-12 23:23Shoes websites Click:

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Dianne hits the brakes. "Dad, I have to get out." She jumps from the SUV, past men sitting on their cars and drinking out of brown paper bags, past rusted gates with broken locks, up concrete stairs blanketed in shattered glass, and looks out onto a shaggy field that she's never seen before. "Wow," she says.

She takes off her shoes. She needs to run. She owes her life to this field. It wasn't where her parents first made eyes -- that was in the town square -- but it's where they fell in love. Before he graduated from high school, Y.A. gave Minnette a bracelet with their initials in hearts. He left for LSU, she for the University of Arkansas, putting their relationship on hold. As a senior, Y.A. was asked by a reporter what he planned to do after graduating. "Marry my high school sweetheart and play professional football," he said. Minnette's boyfriend at the time was not amused. Months later, she and Y.A. were married.

A train whistles by. Dianne reaches the end zone and raps her knuckles against the rusted goalpost. She stands with her hands on her hips, tears and sweat soaking her face ...

Y.A. slams the horn, ready to leave. Dianne takes a final look and climbs into the car, adrenaline filling her chest. Before she can turn the keys, her dad does something rare: He begins to sing. When those old Marshall Men all fall in line, we're going to win that game, another time. And for the dear old school we love so well, we're going to fight, fight, fight and give them all hell!

She is in awe. Since she landed, she's been questioning why she made this trip. Is it for her dad? For her? Is it to cling to a fanciful dream? Finally, she's in a moment that beats the hell out of the alternative.

Two blocks later, Y.A. says, "Did we go by the old Marshall Mavericks High School?"

THAT AFTERNOON, OUTSIDE the house, an electrical worker approaches Y.A. as he gets out of the car. "I know who you are," he says. "Y.A. Tittle. New York Giants. You're a baaaaad boy!"

"Well, thank you," Y.A. says.

A few minutes later, on the couch, he opens a dusty commemorative book celebrating the Giants. He turns each page slowly, back to front, present to past. Legends pass on the way to the middle of last century, to the era of Gifford, Huff and Tittle, a team of Hall of Famers known for losing championships as their peers on the Yankees -- with whom they shared a stadium, a city and many rounds of drinks -- became renowned for winning them. Y.A. stops at a black-and-white shot of a man standing alone on the field, covered in mud.

"That's me," he says.

It's from 1963. The same year in which Y.A., at age 37, set an NFL record with 36 touchdown passes. But he injured his knee early in the NFL title game against Chicago and threw five interceptions. It was his third straight loss in a championship game, and it effectively marked the end of his career. For years, he was the rare quarterback in the Hall of Fame without a title. It hurt. He always covered it up by poking fun at himself, making jokes about the weather during the championship games. But that last loss to the Bears was the worst day of his career: cold, bitter, violent. It marks him, even today. That game, he will never forget.

He turns to a page dedicated to the best performance of his career, against the ?Redskins in 1962, a game when he set a record with seven touchdown passes.

"I didn't know I was that good," he says.

Y.A. often talks about how he misses football. He misses the camaraderie, misses raising a vodka and saying, "We did it." The game was, as Dianne likes to say, his "emotional home," and in retirement in Atherton, he "was homesick for it." Y.A. and Minnette fought a lot during those early empty years, struggling to adapt to a new reality; Dianne once screamed at them so loud to stop arguing that she lost her voice. Y.A. spent the next few decades running an insurance company, giving speeches and informally advising quarterbacks. He developed real estate in the Bay Area and made a lot of money and traveled the world and bought houses around the country. He buried his older brother, his sister, his wife and one of his sons. As the voids in his life piled up, the party at Caddo Lake became more important. Dianne considered it noble that her father strived to host it each year the way he had once strived for a championship. Each party was a win. That's why she hates the blood picture too. The image of defeat that the world associates with her father does not resemble the man she grew up idolizing, the man she desperately hopes is still inside the current one, pining for what she calls one last "moment of victory."

Y.A. closes the Giants book, and family members filter into the room. Tonight everyone wants to eat at the Longwood General Store, a roadside steakhouse. Back in the day, it was one of Y.A.'s favorite joints. Now he doesn't want to go. "We came 3,500 miles to see this," he says, pointing outside. "We got vodka and a meal and the lake. Why leave?"

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