*****Set in the Summer of 1978*****
UNDERLINE KEY DETAILS AS WE READ AND FOR QUESTIONS
Your older brother, Kelvin, is an up-and-coming wide receiver in the NFL. Everyone predicts great things for him, saying that he is so phenomenal that it is only a matter of time before he becomes one of the biggest stars in the game. But he is still the same Kelvin that he always was: down-to-earth, optimistic, and fun. Three years out of college, his future is assured.
Never selfish, Kelvin takes care of the family, paying for your college tuition and fees, as well as a condo for you and your roommate, who is your best friend, and buying your parents a new home. He has donated money and supplies to his old high school and when the season is over, he is committed to becoming more involved in the after-school Community Center that he has used his money to build in the old neighborhood. You are certain that he is one of those people who truly deserves all the success he has. His future is set, you think, smiling.
You, and his girlfriend, Joyce, who is his former college sweetheart, are very excited to come to the pre-season game against last year’s Super Bowl Champions. Much of the publicity has focused on their fierce defensive end, Art Masters. He is all over TV promoting his book, I’m the Last Thing You’ll See Before You Die: My Life (and Your Death) in the NFL. “I want my hits to be like felony assault,” he tells reporters. Hype, you think; he probably still sleeps with a teddy bear with his gigantic self. Still, it’ll be fun to see a player you love to hate; and anyway, it’s just a pre-season game, so maybe he won’t be all crazed like he always acts with the press.
In the 2nd quarter comes THE PLAY THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING. As the overthrown pass heads downfield, Kelvin instinctively leaps for it, and lands on his feet, leaning forward. Simultaneously, a towering, solid mass of muscle comes crashing towards him: At that moment and for the rest of your life, on replays you see Art Masters run at Kelvin, slam his helmet against Kelvin’s, snapping Kelvin’s neck in an awkward position. When Kelvin hits the ground, he never moves. Not his feet, not his hands, not the tiniest twitch. The following days reveal the truth: he is paralyzed from the neck down, with no hope of recovery for the rest of his life.
Over the days at the hospital, you notice something strange: Art’s Coach has come several times but you have never seen Art there. Joyce says, “All the time Kelvin was laying on the field, Art was just looking at the sky, never at Kelvin, like it didn’t matter.” On TV, you see Art being interviewed: “I don’t owe Kelvin an apology because I didn’t do anything wrong. There was no call on the play.” Over the months, as Kelvin is in intense physical therapy, you see a news story about Art’s newest book—his ‘almost-killing-Kelvin’ book, you think. Art proudly boasts its title: Mamas: I Regret to Inform You That on Monday Night Football, I Am Going to Kill Your Child.
The Commissioner and his team of lawyers have told Kelvin that Art cannot be charged with anything, since it wasn’t a crime nor will any action be taken against him by the League; Kelvin’s team will pay all his medical expenses for life, as well as keeping him on the payroll as a consultant for $50,000–a long way from the millions Kelvin seemed destined to make. All the lawyers tell him that if he sues Art or anyone associated with the League, he will give more bad publicity to the game and incur such astronomical legal costs that he could even go bankrupt. Despondent, Kelvin asks, “Why did this happen? Why am I alive?”
As he recovers, the league implements stricter rules against the kind of needlessly brutal hit Art made. Still, that changes nothing for Kelvin. And you know that his monetary help for your schooling—or anything else—may be a thing of the past.
Almost a year later, a TV talk show has arranged a ‘reunion’ of the two players who have not seen each other since the tragic game. You leave Kelvin backstage with Joyce, now his wife, and take a front row seat in the audience. None of the three of you had seen Art in the Green Room [the waiting room for TV guests].
As your once strong brother comes onstage in his wheelchair, the audience gives him a ten minute standing ovation. Art strides out to thunderous boos. Kelvin moves his wheelchair towards Art, who looks startled. Your brother, though quadriplegic, has learned from rehab to lift his hand; he tries to extend it towards Art. Art slaps his hand down, declaring to everyone, “I’ll never say I’m sorry because I didn’t do anything wrong!” He begins to storm offstage. You get up and DO WHAT?
Later, you reflect on and answer the following questions (cite key details in story):
1. What are all the things that were lost as a result of Art’s hit on Kelvin and the resulting tragedy?
2. If you had the chance to talk to Art later, what would you do and say?
3. What should happen to Art?
4. What does Art feel about what he did?
5. Why does he act as if he doesn’t care?
6. Is there any justice for Kelvin? How can it be gained?
7. Is his a wasted life?
8. What should happen and who can make it happen?
9. How might Kelvin and all who love him find meaning in this tragedy?