May 24, 2017

BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE A DIME (profanity alert):

Tupac, Glocks and In-N-Out: A Football Team's Run-in with the Rapper, Revealed (JEFF PEARLMAN, MAY 23, 2017, B/R Mag)

There were two yellow school buses, both battered and worn. Both overflowing with the testosterone and heartbreak of teenagers experiencing the aftermath of unexpected defeat.

In any other circumstance, a stop at In-N-Out for hamburgers and fries would be cause for celebration. A good number of the Long Beach Poly varsity football team's players were relatively unaccustomed to the baseline delicacy of a grilled meat patty and bun prepared outside the home. These were poor kids; teenage boys often lured from the athletic fields to the streets and to Long Beach's notorious mid-1990s gang activity. So, yeah, a Double-Double and a strawberry shake--those were items to cherish.

Yet here, off the Lenwood Road exit along Interstate 15 in Barstow, California, the 50 or so players, coaches and trainers were in anything but a celebratory mood. Seventeen hours earlier, on the night of September 6, 1996, the Jackrabbits opened their season with a performance as ugly as it was listless, falling to Las Vegas' Green Valley High, 16-10, in a game Long Beach Poly coach Jerry Jaso had presumed to be an easy triumph.

Though young and inexperienced, his roster was overflowing with talent. More than a dozen players would ultimately receive Division I scholarships, and five of them-- Marques Anderson, Larry Croom, Samie Parker, Ken-Yon Rambo and Darrell Rideaux--landed on NFL rosters.

"The school we played was severely overmatched," says Tim Richmond, Long Beach Poly's then-assistant coach. "We were far superior in all areas, and we knew it. So to kick things off with that sort of junk...well, no one on those buses was in a celebratory mood."

The drive from Las Vegas to Long Beach is, under ideal conditions, an excruciatingly dull 283-mile slog that offers non-breathtaking views of dirt, sand, rock, dust and roadkill. Located 157 miles to the west of the strip, Barstow serves as an oasis to wearied travelers. So Jaso made the decision to stop here; to give his players a rest and to fork over $8 a head in the name of salvaging something from an otherwise miserable endeavor.

After the two buses pulled into the allotted parking spaces along the northern side of the In-N-Out, players wearily rose from the green vinyl seats, when Robert Hollie, the Jackrabbits' backup quarterback, gazed out a window and said, softly at first, "Yo, it's Pac!"

Posted by at May 24, 2017 7:24 AM