First Game Memories

Cliff Crosby

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On The Week Leading Up To First Game: 

I can remember back in 1999 it was my rookie season with the St. Louis Rams. All week I was looking forward to our 1999 home opener vs. the Baltimore Ravens (the team with Ray Lewis).

I was told that I may be inactive, but to continue to prepare as if I was going to play in the game. However, Saturday night prior to the game, I was informed that I would be playing and that I would be in the Nickel/Dime package and some special teams. I felt a tremendous amount of pressure start to rise, and all my muscles got tight.

On The Morning Of The First Game:

Sunday morning I arrived at the stadium two and a half hours prior to the game to get a hot shower, warm up on the field, get taped, stretched and warmed up again while listening to some Tupac, "I'm a straight rider, you don't wanna mess with me."

For whatever reason, my muscles would not get loose, and as I prepared my family called because they couldn't find Will Call! I answered the phone and said, "Just ask someone, I can't think about that right now. I am about to play in the biggest game of my life."

On Game Time:

Finally, it was 30 minutes prior to kickoff and Coach (Dick) Vermeil was shaking everyone's hand saying, "Have a great game and make a play."  

The national anthem was sung, and the opening kickoff began. I ran down on the kickoff with wide eyes, just hoping the returner (Jermaine Lewis, my college teammate) would not return to my side of the field. I needed at least one play to relax my nerves. As luck would have it, he did run the return to our left and there I was at the five (farthest left on the kickoff team).

With my eyes wide and legs trembling, I made the tackle and stopped him inside the 20-yard line. I ran to the sideline and a got a "Thatta boy" from the late Frank Ganz (special teams coach). I played a total of five to six plays on special teams and three in the Nickel/Dime package with no errors. It was the most exciting, nerve-racking, emotional roller coaster ever. We won the game 27-10!



For whatever reason, my muscles would not get loose, and as I prepared my family called because they couldn't find Will Call! I answered the phone and said, "Just ask someone, I can't think about that right now. I am about to play in the biggest game of my life."

On Game Time:

Finally, it was 30 minutes prior to kickoff and Coach (Dick) Vermeil was shaking everyone's hand saying, "Have a great game and make a play."  

The national anthem was sung, and the opening kickoff began. I ran down on the kickoff with wide eyes, just hoping the returner (Jermaine Lewis, my college teammate) would not return to my side of the field. I needed at least one play to relax my nerves. As luck would have it, he did run the return to our left and there I was at the five (farthest left on the kickoff team).

With my eyes wide and legs trembling, I made the tackle and stopped him inside the 20-yard line. I ran to the sideline and a got a "Thatta boy" from the late Frank Ganz (special teams coach). I played a total of five to six plays on special teams and three in the Nickel/Dime package with no errors. It was the most exciting, nerve-racking, emotional roller coaster ever. We won the game 27-10!

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