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This item originally appeared in the April 28, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.

"In the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft …"

A common theme among great athletes is "they make the players around them better."

Just by being themselves, on and off the field or court, other players become better just from their presence.

It's a hard idea to grasp for someone whose tenure in organized sports ended in the seventh-grade baseball league.

But after an outing to Wal-Mart in July, it all made perfect sense.

"…with the seventy-seventh pick…"

Much like most other sports writers, I dream of being surrounded by thousands of screaming fans and in total control of how they are going to feel for the next three hours.

Whether on the gridiron, the court or the mound, my imagination has known no end to where I could go and what I could do.

Now, I'll never tell my friends this, but in the real world, I'm not any good.

In reality, I'm restricted to throwing a football in the yard, trying to play basketball at church once a week and pitching a low-speed fastball to friends who will risk getting hit in the face.

So what do you do when reality dictates your limits? Easy.

Video games.

"…the Philadephia Eagles take…"

Every July, EA Sports releases an officially licensed NCAA football game for the upcoming season.

Like the big dork I am, I decided to be the first kid on my block to own the game.

So I rounded up a few friends to make the trek to Wal-Mart near midnight to see if they had it yet.

After helping the manager look through boxes for almost an hour, in walked Ryan Moats -- future WAC Offensive Player of the Year, who soon ran for 1,774 yards and 18 touchdowns in the upcoming season.

He immediately noticed a gathering of college guys and came over. We explained the situation, and he decided to help out and look through boxes, as well.

At some point, the boxes ran out, and there was still no game. The manager offered to go to the back and get more boxes to look through.

Near the electronics' section is the sporting goods section. So to pass time, I grabbed a football.

We all started throwing the ball around before Ryan decided to line up behind me, like the great back he is, and as if I were the great quarterback who would deliver him the ball.

And for one brief moment, I heard the crowds cheering. The aisles in Wal-Mart became the stadium.

I snapped the ball to myself.

"…running back Ryan Moats…"

I took the ball in my right hand and made my way back to Ryan, who was about to run for the end zone. In perfect synchronization, I placed the ball in his hands as he began to dash toward the goal line. Almost as soon as it had started, it was over.

And in one brief moment, I experienced something that is usually only reserved for athletes. I was a better football player just from playing with Ryan Moats.

Needless to say, I didn't get the game that night, but I walked away with something far greater that can never be taken away.

And if the Eagles play their cards right, I'll be able to say to my son someday, "Your dad handed the ball off to that man."

"… future pro-bowler and all-around great guy from Louisiana Tech."

Kyle Roberts is a senior journalism major from Ruston and serves as contributing sports editor for The Tech Talk.


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