The score was 0-0. It was 4th down, with 8:47 left in the first quarter. The Portland Steamrollers had the ball at the Memphis Cheetahs’ 34-yard-line, with no timeouts left, having spent them on two failed challenges and snack break. The defense lined up, as would any team in this situation, in a position to block the ensuing field goal. The Rollers special teams unit had received specific instructions, and followed them precisely. They set up in field goal formation with plenty of time left on the play clock, and waited.
As the play clock ticked down, the Memphis players started to get anxious. “I remember feeling this sense of anticipation in my stomach,” said Cheetahs‘ lineman, Jeff Stevens, “I was thinking to myself, ‘What are they waiting for?’”
The play clock struck :00, and Portland was called for a delay of game penalty. They were pushed out of field goal range, and punted on the next play. When pressed for his thinking on that play, Steamrollers longtime coach, Jack McKnight, replied after the game, “I knew they’d be expecting a field goal there. I like to keep opponents on their toes, you know.”
Memphis fielded the punt on the next play and returned it for an 85 yard touchdown. “All part of my plan.” said McKnight. “We wanted them to get an early lead so they would get complacent and we could really fly under the radar.”
“And what about that time in the 2nd quarter when you decided to sub in your third-string punter for your star receiver?” asked a local reporter. The coach responded in the affirmative. “I mean, what’s the use of taking a punter in the first round of the draft if we’re not gonna play him?” said the coach some call “Jack-in-the-Box.”
“I’m not really mad about it especially since the punter scored on the play anyways,” said star receiver Damon Williams. “We know that coach likes to catch other teams off guard. We work on that every day in practice. Sometimes in training camp he liked to flash us during team meetings just to instill that fearful mentality in us. Besides, I just got my new contract. I can’t be out there the whole game risking injury.”
Memphis coach Bud Thomas had the following to say about McKnight’s unorthodox coaching style: “Well Jack’s been known to pull a few tricks out of his sleeve from time to time. Back when we were in college, he took the field with a baseball bat and proceeded to destroy the opposing QB’s kneecaps. But he’s paid his dues to society for that.”
“Unfortunately he caught us napping today during a TV timeout in the 3rd quarter when he stabbed a beer vendor to death and buried him in parking lot D. We’re gonna take a look at the film this week and see how we can improve in that area.”
The Steamrollers won the game when Memphis forfeited midway through the fourth when the body was found and McKnight had returned to the field with a bloodied Portland sweatshirt. They play San Antonio next week.
“I don’t know how fans can complain with my methods, when we’ve consistently shown good results,” said McKnight in the postgame conference following Sunday’s game versus the Cheetahs, which took place at a Memphis police station. “I mean, a win is a win, right?”