For the last two or three years I have kept a more or less daily journal to record whatever events that seem important at the time, and to have a place to put down my thoughts and observations. I never planned for any of this stuff to ever be read by another soul. But because of the astounding things that have occurred over the last few weeks, it is important that I construct a clear and reliable account of everything that has happened.
Therefore, I have produced this narrative, using as much as possible the record of my journal. Most often, the text is taken directly from my journal, while in some places I had to expand brief notes that I had jotted down to save time. I summarized into the narrative only when the actual entry seemed to be long-winded or dull. I tried not to include irrelevant remarks or unimportant details. I have also included some personal letters, as well as other materials, which are pertinent to these events.
So follows the most amazing story ever imagined. I realize many of those who read this account will not believe it. In truth, I wouldn’t believe it myself if I hadn’t actually been there. Even so, I must present it as I lived it, starting December 3rd last year when I first met Dr. James Keeling.
I thought the events leading up to my interview with the professor were common knowledge throughout the country, certainly to the University community we lived in, but not so for Professor Keeling. He had never heard of me or of my feats on the football field. One of the egghead types to perfection, the news was the only television he watched, and the sports section of the paper he used for stuffing in sample boxes.
In my first two years as a college quarterback, I led the nation in passing percentage, and through the first three games of my third season, I was leading the nation in passing efficiency and total offense. Sports Illustrated reported that I was the top candidate for the Heisman trophy. However, on the first play of the fourth game, my left knee blew out, and Monday morning I was lying on an operating table with my season at an end.
Two months had gone by when I noticed the job advertisement posted on the bulletin board. By then, I was off crutches, limping only slightly with my knee heavily wrapped and wearing a steel brace. It is true that the athletic department and alumni provide the cushiest jobs for the athletes you can imagine, but this one sounded especially interesting. The position was in the Paleontology department, working for the Nobel Prize laureate, Dr. James Keeling. It required the applicant to be strong and in excellent physical condition. What was most appealing, the job involved assisting on a field trip to Southeast Asia for two months in the late spring and early summer.
It sounded perfect. Hard physical work would be good for me. Although I have traveled all over the country playing football, I had never been out of the United States, and this sounded like an exciting opportunity.
Man-o-man, how naive can one dumb football player be? How often would I regret having ever come within a country mile of that office, and yet, as my story will tell, how grateful I am that I did.