Jason Avant Appreciation Day
I know the last home game is Senior Day, but there are two home games left, so is there any way the Indiana game can be just for him, kind of like in the pros when a guy is going to retire and they give him a car? (OMG, just remembered Roger Clemens taking a car from the Yankees, staying "retired" the month it took them to renounce his option rights, and then going to Houston like the very next day. Hahahahahahahahaha. Okay, I'm good.)
But we are DEFINITELY on the verge of saying goodbye to the Captain, the guy who made the number 8 (always my lucky number) cool again, and someone who has probably never got enough love from the U-M faithful. Continually overshadowed in the national media by his more glamorous teammates, and in many blogs by most bloggers' Mike Hart mancrushes, Jason Avant is one of the classiest, most likeable, toughest mofos to wear the winged helmet in recent memory. The above picture is of Avant in the middle of the consecutive feats of hanging onto one of the most amazing catches and absorbing one of the most hellacious shots of the year. Those of who saw the game are probably feeling sympathy pains right now. The play won the game for Michigan, in a nutshell. It might very well have SAVED the game, because otherwise our hopes are riding on the ample potbelly of one Garrett Rivas. But here's the thing: after Avant took this hit that spun him around like a New York Times war correspondent, he DIDN'T MISS A PLAY. And his staying in might have also been key, because with the three receiver set still in effect on 1st-and-goal from the 5, Iowa went against their better judgment and didn't key on the run, and Michigan ran it to the 1. Game over.
The first time I ever saw Avant, he caught some stretched-out sliding stickum-handed thing over the middle (against Washington? anyhow it was early in his freshman year) and I said "who the hell was THAT?!" He proceeded to vanish from the offense that season so Tyrece Butler and Ron Bellamy could showcase themselves for the pros. (rim shot) But we saw him the rest of the year on special teams, a role he has proudly never relinquished, filling our memories with almost as many big hits, either on punts or springing Perry and Hart on long runs, as he has with his uncannily money third-down catches. Jason Avant being named captain this year was probably the least surprising captaincy announcement of all time. He's the guy who told the team they sucked when the fans were whining about replay and Mike Hart's injury, and the season has since fitfully crawled back from the precipice. There are enough problems on this team that even his shoulders might not be enough to carry them through the homestretch unscathed, but the depth of Avant's struggle, and the crazy, formerly unimaginable possibility crawling over the horizon that the team might yet fully redeem itself, has ennobled Avant forever. I hope he looks back on this season, regardless of the final record, as a personal triumph, one in which his hands, his heart, and his strength of character all played a pivotal role.
Update: I realized from comments the old picture wasn't even Avant, so I replaced it and edited my description of the pic (thanks to Kenny. Nice site, BTW). The new picture is more dynamic but not as emotionally charged as I THOUGHT the old one was when I was under the delusion it was Avant. So if you liked the old pic of Prescott Burgess and some guys, I hope Google cached this site.