My favorite football player is, was, and likely always will be, Barry Sanders. No other modern NFL player combined power, grace, durability, and innovation like the Mighty Mite. Also, he played for the Detroit Lions, a team that I used to root for, and which I now simply observe as a pitiable oddity, like a calf born with no legs, or Glenn Beck.
I think the most enduring memory I have of Barry Sanders was of a guy who made sure he did whatever it took to stay on his feet, for as long as he could. He was the master of the 90-second four-yard gain, slipping and sliding, starting and stopping, changing directions three times a second, legs like some kind of steel-rubber hybrid. When he was on his game, you couldn't stop him, you couldn't contain him, you couldn't even hope to contain him. You could only hope to wish to contain him. The man just would Not. Go. Down.
And when he got to the end zone, as he often did, there was never a dance. Never a celebratory jig. He'd just flip the ball to the ref, like he'd been expecting to be in the end zone. No big deal. Expected. He'd been there before, he'd be there again.
Observe him here, in one of his most iconic runs.
As you can see, Barry was absolutely explosive as he broke through the line of scrimmage, and his ability to change directions on a half-penny allows him to make defenders look foolish. Did you see how he just threaded the needle between the two groups that were trying to tackle him? Brilliant. Of course, for Barry, getting through the first wave was the easy part. As you can see from that clip, defenders had little trouble running him down in the open field, leaving him susceptable to a hit from behind. Luckily, Sanders was adept at juking as he ran, forcing his pursuers to make mistakes and misses in their attempts to lay a hand on him.
Now. Here's why I'm telling you this.
Last night, I was the poker version of Barry until the five-yard line. I bubbled the $50+$5 Nightly Seventy Grand over on Stars. My pocket Aces fell to 89 offsuit on a gross QJT flop. On the final table bubble and 9th in chips, I'd limped them UTG hoping (not unreasonably, in my opinion) for a shove from an opportunistic stack. Sadly, I got no action until that rancid flop, and when I got action from the big blind (the other shorty at the table), I simply couldn't fold. Given how weakly I'd played pre, I decided he could have any Queen, Jack, or Ten with a rag, or even a naked King for the open ended. Ace King was not something I could put him on, nor TT, JJ, or QQ.
Etcetera. The point is, I couldn't quite find the fold as much as I hated the flop, he'd flopped third nuts, the King didn't materialize to save me, and that was it for me. I'd be the last one to say I'd played it perfectly there, but I think my thought process was reasonable.
Regardless, I'm still feeling good about it. I feel like a corner has been turned. I'm not the greatest poker player by any stretch, and among the list of poker variants NLHE is still the only one I feel this way about but . . . I feel like I've figured something out. I'm not killing myself this morning about "the one that got away." I don't feel like I've let my one chance slide. There was never a point that I didn't feel like I knew what I was doing, where I felt like I was getting run over by my table or by a specific person. And -- I think this is the key point -- I wasn't ever surprised. This deep run just kind of felt like "yeah." Like something that is possible to do. I feel like in any given tournament, I'm a threat to go Barry Sanders all over everybody.
I got coolered with Aces slow played. That's the risk you take when you try to double up by slow playing them. It happens. But until that moment, I definitely felt that I had a chance to Go. All. The. Way.
Nice feeling. Here's hoping it sticks around. If I'm the guy who has a great season and then just sucks horribly for years? We all know who that would make me.
Scott Mitchell. Shudder.