More than a week later, that loss still stings

In a decade plus of covering Montana Tech’s football team for the paper, I got to know legendary Oredigger coach Bob Green quite well.

I never played for him, but I had so many heart-to-heart talks with the coach over the years that it almost felt like I did. We talked about football, and we talked about just about everything else imaginable over the years.

I talked with Coach Green after big wins when he was “bouncing around like a pogo stick on Viagra.”

I talked with him after crushing losses — like the Marcus Miller Oredigger Killer Game or the Nick Milodragovich Unfair Catch Game — when the coach laid the blame solely on himself.

“Victory has a thousand fathers,” Coach Green would say. “Defeat is an orphan.”

I take 100 percent credit, by the way, for coining the phrase “Greenisms” for his colorful one-liners. I stole it from a book about Yogi Berra.

By the second year I covered his team, I could tell the lines that were scripted and the ones that came right off the top of his head. On those ones, Coach Green would usually point at me with a cockeyed look of self satisfaction.

One thing that always stood out about Coach Green was the way he handled a loss. On Saturday afternoon you could see the hurt in his eyes. Then on Tuesday at practice he was as upbeat as it gets.

If you didn’t know his team just lost a big game three days earlier, you’d swear his Orediggers were coming off a semifinal win and getting ready for the national championship game.

That ability to move on is probably one of the main reasons Coach Green was so successful for so long. It is why his Orediggers could win a big game at Montana Western a week after losing a bigger game at Carroll College.

When the loss was a season-ender, Green would also bounce back quickly. By Monday morning he’d be all smiles and ready to hit every small highway in Montana to try to land the next great Oredigger.

I have been thinking about Coach Green’s shake-it-off ability ever since I saw Randall “Bleepin'” Cobb run untouched for a 48-yard touchdown that ruined my football season.

It has been more than a week since the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears in the de facto NFC North championship game, and I have been in full depression mode since.

It is hard to imagine how bad it would be if I actually had something to do with the game. As it is, I am going to see Zack Bowman tackle Cobb in the end zone to the call of Joe Buck every time I close my eyes until September.

There is no getting over a loss like this. Knowing that the Bears would have just lost the next week to San Francisco is no consolation.

Seeing the Packers lose in the first round of the playoffs helped a little, but not nearly enough. That play will still haunt me like a cheap Bucky Dent home run until the Bears win a Super Bowl.

It was fourth and eight, and the Bears were one play from winning the game and the division. They were 46 seconds from shutting up Packers fans for at least the next 10 months.

I saw trouble when Julius “The Little Girl” Peppers lost contain and let quarterback Aaron Rodgers escape the pocket to his left.

Coach Green and his defensive ends always had a saying about keeping contain, which was their only job on every play. Unlike most Greenisms, that line probably isn’t suitable for all readers.

I’m going to put it out there anyway.

“It is better to have died as a small child,” Coach Green would say, “than lose contain.”

That is how important keeping contain is for a defensive end. That shows you that Julius Peppers apparently couldn’t have played for the Orediggers.

Right about the time I saw Peppers lose contain, I started yelling “nooooooo.”

When I saw that the Bears decided to not cover Cobb as ran free through the middle and wait on a pass that he could have fair caught, I started helplessly yelling “nooooooo” over and over as if I was watching a giant gorilla slowly eat one of my children.

Like a car crash, the touchdown seemed to play out in slow motion.

After the game, I tried to regain some semblance of composure. I patched up the hole I punched in the wall and repeated apologized to the wife and kids for all the swearing.

Then I stayed up most of the night staring at the ceiling.

The next morning, I didn’t want to get out of bed the next morning. I also didn’t want to talk to anybody, even though it seems everybody wanted to talk to me about the game.

I felt like hibernating until the opening day of the baseball season.

If Coach Green was anything like me, his Orediggers wouldn’t have won in Dillon the week after losing in Helena.

The team wouldn’t have even gotten on the bus.

—Bill Foley, who really is considering hibernating until the opening day of the baseball season, writes a column that appears on ButteSports.com on Tuesdays. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74.



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