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On New Year’s Day, 1929, Georgia Tech played the University of California in the Rose Bowl. A UC player named Roy Riegels, who was their center, recovered a fumble for California and in the confusion of evading some of the Georgia Tech tacklers, started running sixty-five yards… in the wrong direction. Just before Riegels was about to score for Georgia Tech one of his own teammates tackled him landing on the one yard line.

As half-time came to an end everyone but Riegels got up to leave the locker room. He didn’t budge. Reportedly he said to his coach, "Coach, I can’t do it. I’ve ruined you, I’ve ruined myself, I’ve ruined the University of California. I couldn’t face that crowd to save my life." To which the coach replied, "Roy, get up and go back out there — the game is only half over."

(Sources: Dr. Reed Lessing. © 2010 by Creative Communications for the Parish.;

If you were the coach of that team, what would you have done? Benched him for poor play or to collect himself? Or would you have kept him in the game reminding him that the game was only half over?

If you have been Riegels, what would you have done? Decided to stay in the locker room and give up? Reject the coach’s words as mere platitudes? Or would you believe him and get up and go play the second half? (Which he did with distinction, losing to Tech 8 to 7.)

Riegels went on to serve our nation during World War 2 in the Army Air Corp, owned his own company, coached football at the High School level and also coached Cal at one point. He died in 1993 at the age of 84.

Would he have accomplished any of these things if he would have given up that day?

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