The Inner Munson

“We gotta be careful with these Buffalo Bulls. They have a wicked little halfback who gets ten carries a game, and their punter can absolutely boom it. I’m tellin’ ya, they aren’t gonna just lay down and die.”

Yesterday, my friend, P.C. Frailey, posted out of the blue on my Facebook wall:

Alright Brooks, you’re the only person I’ve ever known more pessimistic about UGA football than Larry Munson. So tell me, what is it about Buffalo that has you nervous? I’m sure there must be something you’re sweating over.

He’s right though. When it comes to forecasting Georgia football, I’m pretty much Chicken Little crossed with the one local reporter that freaks out over the first snowflake. I just never see the positives that others do. If you polled 100 people about Georgia’s chances this year, I would be the one person who predicts an opening loss to the Buffalo Bulls, a New York University football team whose main claim to fame is being consistently mistaken for their professional neighbors, the Buffalo Bills.

Maybe it comes from hearing too much of Larry Munson, the hallowed gravel-voiced announcer for the University of Georgia who passed away last year. Munson was a Saturday fixture during my youth; whether I was at home, at my grandparents, or on the road, the dial was always set to AM 750 WSB and that ragged rasp that painted pictures over the airwaves. Even when Georgia games were on television, my grandfather would turn down the TV announcers and crank Munson to full blast.

What made Larry such a treasure for the Georgia fan was the fact that he was never arrogant about the team. He worried. He fretted. We could be up on a team by 67 points, and Munson would growl, “Up by double digits, but my God that clock is moving slow.” The game was never in hand until the final whistle blew and the teams were off the field and into the locker rooms.

Basically, Munson spoke the unspoken worry of every Georgia fan watching the game. At heart, we were all uncertain of our place, of our abilities, of ourselves. Munson acknowledged that uncertainty and walked us through it on the mic.

I gave P.C. my answer (I think there’s a danger in our defense believing its press too soon; I’m worried about the tailback situation; and I’m just not sold on our offensive line staying healthy all season long. And that doesn’t include Aaron Murray’s need to limit the turnovers) and we had a little fun going back and forth, me playing the part of the pessimist, him the part of the optimist.

But after the thread went dormant, I really thought about it for a minute. Why have I always been so pessimistic about UGA football? Come to think of it, why have I always been so pessimistic about a lot of things? What makes me such a glass-half-empty kind of fellow?

For me, it’s aversion to pain. If I see the glass as half full, and things don’t go my way, then I am not only disappointed by the loss, but by having my hopes dashed too. Life has this funny way of not playing out like a movie script: the good guys don’t always win, the politicians don’t always fight for the little guy, and sometimes things just go badly. So instead of looking for a rainbow that probably wouldn’t appear, I chose to look at the more likely reality.

And strangely enough, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Larry Munson must’ve felt the same way.

Larry called games with that doomsday approach as a way of softening the blow if Georgia did lose. It was mitigation, really; the football gods are capricious – defeat can be snatched from the jaws of victory in less time than it takes to say, “Lindsay Scott!” – and Munson counteracted their deviousness by not letting the fans get too invested. He tamped our expectations down with his bleak outlook, and the result was magic: losses didn’t hurt as much as they could have, but victory was never sweeter.

I still tend to veer towards the negative when it comes to forecasting the future (especially if we’re talking politics), but often its not true negativity. I don’t really think the world sucks as much as I might let on. Truthfully, I’ve discovered that even the deepest pains of life can hold joy and meaning, and that gives me a much different view of life than before. But normally, I let the Inner Munson win out simply because it keeps things in balance.

Deep down, however, I know that things will work out in the end.

Except for tomorrow’s game against Buffalo. I hear they’ve got a punter who can absolutely boom kicks, and if we get into a field position battle, well…

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