Gary Harkness does a lot of thinking about himself and his teammates: “Some of us were more simple than others; a few might might be called outcasts or exiles; three or four, as on every football team, were crazy. But we were all—even myself—we were all dedicated.” Gary numbers himself among the exiles, often wondering what he is doing in the “summer tundra” of west Texas. He is in west Texas as a last resort, having dropped out of four previous universities. He was an all-state halfback at his New York high school, pushed to do his best by an eager father, and received twenty-eight scholarship offers.
Gary’s first school was Syracuse University, from which he was dismissed when he holed up in his room for two days “with two packages of Oreo cookies and a girl named Lippy Margolis.” At Penn State, everything went well until monotony set in and he quit attending practices, at which time he was given inspirational lectures on the need to sacrifice and on football as a microcosm of life. Nothing availing, Gary went home to the Adirondacks and toughed out the winter before enrolling at the University of Miami, where his new interest in nuclear catastrophe depressed him so badly that he went home again. In his next gridiron incarnation, at Michigan State University, he was doing fine until one day he and two teammates converged brutally on an Indiana safetyman. The safetyman died the next day, and Gary went home and sat in his room for seven weeks.
(The entire section is 613 words.)