From a solid black screen a gradual transition occurs to where the viewer is presented a dark and dreary hallway. The camera remains steady before slowly starting to pan down the long, empty, and noticeably quiet hall; the building shows signs of wear on the gray linoleum floor and the cinder blocks walls have been painted multiple times, with layers of each of the various colors peaking through in certain spots where it has begun to once again chip away . Dented lockers line the sides of the hall and it appears as if the old school building has been neglected for years with old child-like art hanging off the wall and ripped paper dangling from disregarded bulletin boards. The camera continues down the hall, sliding past numerous doors on both sides, before finally reaching the last door on the right hand side of the hall. The camera gradually turns towards the door and slowly forces perspective through the frosted glass pane at the top, riddled with small scratches and tiny cobwebs. The viewer is thrust into a small room of people who are huddled together in a circle of old metal chairs, currently silent in their thoughts. The viewer can see 10-12 people ranging from middle aged to much older, both men and women, with an older gentleman in glasses holding a clipboard scanning the room. Most people have their head down while a few sip from Styrofoam cups or stare off into the distance. The camera slowly scans the outside perimeter of the circle before coming to a stop focused on the back of a man’s head.
After a moment passes the man stands up out of his chair and takes a long drawn out breath
CardinalStrong, hesitantly: “My name…..is CardinalStrong.”
The rest of individuals in the room respond to his introduction in unison
All: “Welcome CardinalStrong”
With the camera still focused on the back of his head you can see a few faces on the other side of the circle but with no detail or clarity. He hesitates again, then continues
CardinalStrong: “I…..I’m a Louisville Football Season Ticket holder”
The other individuals in the shot sit back in their chair and a small gasp is heard across the room. Facial expressions of concern and pain are not hidden on the faces of the others as the camera starts to pan the room. He continues.
CardinalStrong: “The last couple of years have been rough. To say things haven’t really gone according to plan would be a challenge to spit out in front of you today because frankly, that barely scratches the surface. No, things have certainly not gone according to my somewhat lofty expectations, but even my pessimistic expectations would have been a sight for sore eyes during the fall months of two thousand and eighteen. His voice cracks I’m not sure how I got there each week or what kept pulling me back but- I knew I had a problem as my hope sprung external every time I walked through those gates into the stadium that shall be named at a later time. I paid money, money that I worked hard for, to go and experience pain; often times beyond what my eyes could even take in. It was like watching a train wreck at a highway crossing where the train would collide into the side of a car, stop, back up and then hit that car over and over and over again. And each time, each time you thought, surely it’s done now, it’ll stop today, it can’t keep happening…but it never did. It never stopped. This wasn’t the train Vance Bedford promised me. And instead of being on the train, I was sitting in that car every single week. I wasn’t alone, though. Oh no, there were thousands of us every single game who continued to watch as the carnage unfolded week after week after week.”
The older man with a clipboard in his hand and wire framed glasses resting on his nose leans forward to interject
Old Man: “This isn’t your fault CardinalStr-
CardinalStrong interrupts before he can complete his thought
CardinalStrong: “..please just let me get this out”
Older man with clipboard slowly leans back, and his metal chair creaks as he finds a resting position
CardinalStrong: “Listening to everyone’s stories today has provided me with a perspective that I hadn’t allowed myself to see through all the chaos. I mean, Kansas football stories…Rutgers football stories. Yikes. Hearing you speak about the pain and destruction each of you has felt and battled through has let a sliver of light invade my consciousness and understand the deep truth in that old proverb. It is always darkest right before the dawn. Worrying about third down conversion percentages and havoc rates were a waste of my energy for a season that was already over. I should have been more focused on the new coaching staff, recruiting, and team preparedness.” He stares intently at the floor, deep in thought
Older man with clipboard tries to interject again as the camera continues to pan.
Old Man: “I’m not sure you understand what we’re trying to accomplish here tod-
CardinalStrong , sounding more enthusiastic now continues to speak
CardinalStrong: “Oh no sir, I think I finally have a great understanding of where I went wrong. I was so buried in my sorrows that I missed the fact that I was the one holding the shovel. I was standing in a giant hole with no cognitive understanding of how you got there or why I was there but now I know how I got there now. I dug the hole.
Older man with clipboard now seems pleased with the discussion and responds
Older Man: “Well, It sounds as if you’ve had a minor break through today, but understand that these things take time. No one can recover from a season such as that without deep explorat-.
The camera has finally paned around the circumference of the circle of chairs revealing CardinalStrong’s face, expressing joy and a sense of relief.
CardinalStrong, mumbling at first: “I dug the hole. And the only way to get out is to climb that ladder one rung at a time. One day at a time.”
Older Man: “Well sure, maybe some journaling about moving past this would be beneficial? A daily expression of how you feel ab-
CardinalStrong leans down and grabs an old tattered Louisville hat from under his chair
CardinalStrong: “Oh, we’re doing some daily journaling alright, boss. A little thing I like to call ‘The Cardinal Countdown’ “
CardinalStrong, surprised by the lack of acknowledgement at this declaration continues.
CardinalStrong: “You know, where I cover all the players on the roster for 100 days straight. I just realized that today… today is Day 100!”
Older Man: “I’d suggest you keep coming to these meetings CardiinalStrong”
CardinalStrong, now almost to the point of uncontrolled exuberance continues to gather his things
CardinalStrong: “Nah, I’m cured. Just needed a few baby steps to land right here. 100. Days. Until. Kickoff.”
Older Man: “It doesn’t work that way, you know. You need constant communica-“
CardinalStrong, having gathered his belongings pushes his chair back against the concrete floor, it makes a harsh screeching sound. He slides through the opening in the chairs and starts walking towards the frosted glass door
Older Man: “You’re not listening. The pain of 2-10 doesn’t disappear with a single blog post”
CardinalStrong: “You’re absolutely right doc, but it’ll be long gone after I crank out a hundred. New dawn, new day, all that jazz”
Older Man: “But, you need a support system”
CardinalStrong: “Doc, I got a 120 football players and a bunch of strangers on a website who will keep me company over the next 100 days- wait….that didn’t come out right. You know what I’m saying though. Tell ya what, how’s about I pop two Satterfield’s and wash it down with a cold class of ‘Dennison is back up in here’ and call you in the morning? I gotta go to work!”
CardinalStrong continues walking towards the door and throws his fist into the air as he passes through the threshold. The camera captures a freeze frame of his fist in the air as ‘The Final Countdown’ begins to play in the background.
The screen fades to black.
Welcome once again to year number eight of ‘The Cardinal Countdown’. A daily post highlighting each member of the Cards current roster with a pinch of insight, a dash of useful information, and heaping pile of utter nonsense. For those of you who have followed along all eight years, I am forever indebted to your faithfulness and the resilience to power through each of the 700+ posts in this series. You are all insane. For the new reader or the reader who recently hopped on board in the last season or two, welcome to the family. I don’t make a ton of promises but I’ll guarantee that each day will get you at least 30% towards the Jimmy V goal of laughing, thinking, and crying each day. I try and aim for the laughing or thinking most days, but some post just end with you ugly crying in front of your coworkers. It’s a give and take, folks.
Enough about me already, ‘Are You Ready For Some Football?!?’ If not, that’s cool, we still got 100 days to get you amped up. If you’re an avid CC reader you’ve been kept in the loop pretty well with all the changes since last season and boy oh boy did we have some changes. If you don’t keep up with it that much have I got a surprise for you….[whispers] guys, they fired freakin’ everybody. The Cards got new coaches, new staff members, and even got some new players. Because this would turn into a 3000 word post that no one would read I’m going to skip the new introductions today and point you to a new 2019 feature of ‘The Cardinal Countdown’ called… “Hi, my name is…” where I’ll cover a member of the new staff, giving you little history on each coach, where they’re from, where they played, favorite animal, you know all the important stuff. With around 10-11 new position coaches that breaks down to…uhh….let’s just call it one every ten days or so and put away all the calculators, know what I’m saying? And for you faithful readers, keep an eye out for a slightly smaller but extremely important addition to the squad, and to me personally, sometime around…we’ll call it a mid August date.
Congrats on powering through the “official” offseason everyone. Sure, the summer can be rough but with the exception of a day or two here or there you will have the opportunity the read a post about Louisville football from now until we kick this thing off in a little over three months. How sweet is that?! One hundred days from right now those overhyped, over loved, media darlings from South Bend, IN will meander, cause that’s exactly what those pretty boys do, they meander, all the way down I-65 past Lucas Oil, past the outlet malls, past the 78 potholes the size of a left tackle, past the carcass of River Falls Mall, and skip right into Papa John’s [redacted] Cardinal Stadium looking to drop 70 and pick up a check. But Satterfiled aint letting it go down like that. Regis and [Brian] Kelly better be bringing Joe Montana, the ghost of Knute Rockne, or Condoleeza Rice up in here because Touchdown Jesus ain’t making the trip and these Louisville boys are looking to make a statement early. Life comes at you fast if you’re not ready. It’s a new dawn, a new day….