Brandon laced up his well-worn Nike spikes for the start of his senior intramural flag football season. As he stood up from the turf, wiping his shorts clean of countless black astro beads, he apprehensively looked at his fellow Beta Gamma Omega fraternity brothers tossing the pigskin around on the sidelines.
Hoisting up last year’s IM Greek Cup was becoming a distant, fading memory, as the team resembled a shell of its former self. The harsh reality was Schmitty, Cameron, Jacobs, and the rest of the “Dirty Dozen” weren’t walking through that door to right this ship. Membership reviews cleaned house after the “Little Havana Incident,” and this once thriving 150-man chapter was cut down to a pathetic 40 surviving brothers. Adding insult to injury, the fraternity was put on two years of social probation and the chapter house was now indefinitely “dry,” resulting in a downright miserable fall pledge class.
Brandon himself was far from the model athletic specimen he mirrored freshman year. His once loosely fitting jersey was now skin-tight on his 5’10” frame, thanks to habitually getting his daily eight glasses of water in the form of light beer, a vanishing interest in his once beloved weight room, and a diet that was heavily reliant on the drive-thru dollar menu. However, Brandon still had that same cannon for an arm that shattered every Pennsylvania 2A high school passing record, and he was rather nimble on his feet despite his gradual weight gain. After watching the goobers who now donned his fraternity’s colors drop pass after pass, it became quickly evident that the success of this season was firmly placed on his shoulders.
Brandon warmed up his arm with fellow pledge brother Wes, the only remaining teammate from the year prior. Wes was your prototypical gritty, lunch-pail, [insert broadcasting adjective for “white”] possession receiver. He caught virtually anything thrown his way, including a vicious case of chlamydia he picked up after pricking the dying rosebud of notorious frat rat Jamie Lynn, but that story is for another time. If the defense allowed it, Brandon would throw in his direction every play.
This was lined up to be the easiest game of the season, bar none. The opposition was the Jewish fraternity that had the athletic prowess more the likes of Larry David than Sandy Koufax, and Brandon and his brothers laid a biblical beat down to the ring of 56-7 the year before.
Beta Gamma Omega won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half. Brandon wanted to see just how shoddy these new replacement players were on the defensive side. The Jewish fraternity torched ΒΓΩ’s defense for a touchdown on the second play and it was obvious that they were in for a good, old-fashioned shootout.
Brandon kept to the script early on, methodically marching down the field on short out routes, slants, and hooks to Wes. The defense caught on rather quickly, but they had no answer as Brandon threw a majestic pass placed between three defenders safely secured into the hands of Wes for six.
Eventually, the windows closed up altogether, Brandon took a page out of his hero’s book, Brett Favre, and started throwing ill-advised passes. Much like the last time he followed in Favre’s footsteps, he was exposed. It resulted in two costly interceptions and it put his team down a score with a minute left. It was time to open up the offense.
Brandon fired his first pass of the drive to a lanky, wide-eyed pledge, Garrett. The pass ricocheted off his noggin, time seemingly stopped as it floated through the air, and by the grace of God, the ball harmlessly fell to the ground. Garrett, on the other hand, did not escape the play unscathed and lay unconscious on the field. Student paramedics casually strolled onto the field, thirty minutes of pronging him passed, and Garrett was still unresponsive.
“Do you think it’s bad?” Brandon asked.
“Are you kidding? I think he’s dead,” said Wes.
Another half an hour went by before an ambulance finally made an appearance and Garrett was carted off the field for proper medical attention. The intramural refs huddled together for a brief moment before blowing their whistles.
“That’s the game,” said one of the referees.
“Wait, what?” asked Brandon.
“We’re calling it,” said the referee. “Game over.”
“It’s a one-possession game — you can’t fucking call it,” said Brandon.
Wes realized Brandon was seconds away from LeGarrette Blounting the official and he quickly separated the two. He escorted Brandon to the parking lot and eventually got him to simmer down.
That was the moment. It finally hit Brandon as both he and Wes sat on the curb, speechless. The fraternity had officially hit rock bottom. All their hard work and dedication in improving the chapter over the last three years was for nothing, and the trials and tribulations of Brandon McLoughlin’s senior year were just beginning..