By Evan Rafferty
Author’s Note: This article was written long ago, based on an alternative timeline in which the author still felt happiness. When the sun still rose in the morning, the birds sang their cheerful songs, when Pitt didn’t absolutely blow it against NC State, and bungle it against Boston goddamn College. Football only serves as a chilling reminder that nothing will change, nobody loves you, and it doesn’t get better, so don’t get your hopes up. Until next Saturday.
That’s right, nerds. Close that textbook. Put away that laptop. It’s time to watch our lads sling some pigskin and slam a bunch of losers into the dirt. What do you mean there’s a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic going on? Shut up, it’s football season.
Unless you’re actually dumb, then you know that our Pitt Panthers opened up the 2020 season with absolutely dominating victories over a bunch of posers that call themselves the Austin Peay State University “Governors,” and a basket of oranges hailing from Syracuse. Who knew you could grow citrus in upstate New York? Anyway, if you know anything about the greatest sport in America, you could probably deduce that this means that Pitt is once again the best team in the nation (Don’t @ me, Clemson. See you on November 28th). But for Pitt and their head coach, Pat “The Thunder of Southern Connecticut” Narduzzi, with great power rankings comes great responsibility. The Panthers have an obligation, a moral imperative, to enlighten the mass media and give some insider information on just how the Panthers have gotten off to such a hot start. However, despite the onslaught of reporters foaming at the mouth, begging for an iota of detail behind the team’s victories, none have been successful at getting the coaching staff to spill the beans. It was time to bring in the big guns, the A-team, the best detective that upper campus has to offer: me.
With help from my god complex and the motivation from my self-condemned Sisyphean struggle to try and inform the stupid common man, I was able to call in a few favors, whip up a little blackmail, and break into Heinz Field by disguising myself as a ketchup bottle in order to get a one-on-one interview with the man, the myth, the legend himself, Patrick Regan Narduzzi. While you might have expected someone to be surprised or scared by a walking, talking, stalking, popping, and locking tomato sauce container approaching you and screaming out of excitement, Narduzzi paid no attention to my presence. The man’s a stoic. His eyes were glued to a screen playing the entirety of Louisville’s offensive film at 139x speed, faster than any normal human could comprehend. That’s when I knew I had something special to report, and I had to go deeper than simple observation. It took a super-secret Pentagon safe word used to bring government agents out of their natural brain-washed state, ‘Linguini,’ to awaken the coach from his game-day preparation hibernation.
Narduzzi’s head snapped toward me with the incredible speed of someone snapping their head towards someone at an alarmingly fast rate. His eyes began to glow, a haunting shade of Pitt Royal™, HEX #003594.
A voice from deep within the Allegheny mountains rumbled to life and spoke from the language of the ancient gods, blasting directly into my temporal lobe: “Quid est bonum, fratrem?”
“W-Well, your Duzziness,” I stuttered, trying and failing to maintain my composure and credibility in the face of greatness. “I have come before you to beg, to plead for a scoop. How have the Panthers grown into the greatest football team in football history, in such a short amount of football time? What’s the football secret- a new formation, a trick play, a UPMC-developed football steroid?”
“Do not fear, my child. I was but a curious mortal once, as well. I will give you the answers you seek… for a price,” the coach said, a sly grin creeping across his face.
“But of course, your Duzziness. Hell, I’d give an arm and a leg to learn the process behind the best football team in the wo-”
I woke up in UPMC Presbyterian 4 days and 12 hours later, missing two of my most trusted and loved appendages. Sorry if the helicopter woke you up again, that was probably me. As my mind repaired itself from my encounter with such a powerful figure, I felt an object materialize in my pocket out of thin air. I reached down with my remaining arm and retrieved a note, a message from Patrick Narduzzi himself. Written with the blood of a Nittany lion (whatever that is), on ancient parchment made of the skin of a Mountaineer, the memorandum spoke thus:
Victory is not found in singular glory, or modern scheme
To win, one must score more points than the opposing team.
My hippocampus began to shake, collapsing in on itself from the weight of pure godly knowledge that had just made its way into my brain. Every kind of doctor you can think of rushed into the room to try and save my life. An epinephrine injection directly into the brain stem, a defibrillator, and fourteen kinds of essential oils attempted to keep my very soul in its flesh casing, but all of them failed.
I write this account to you, dear reader, from the world beyond. I trust you with this message, and that you will use it to do good in the world. Just know that when January rolls around and Pitt is playoff-bound, the famed “Kenny Heisman” theorem of scoring more points than the other team, developed by Coach Narduzzi, and whatever Lovecraftian Yinzer lord lies within him, is what brought them there. Hail to Pitt.