Please allow me to introduce myself — I’m a shoe of wealth and taste.
Forgive me, I couldn’t resist the Rolling Stones ripoff. I’m just a bit giddy these days, my laces jangling with the rush of newfound fame.
You see, I’m not just any shoe.
I’m the shoe.
Yes, I know, there are literally billions of us in the world like there are billions of you humans.
But I’m sure since Saturday night you’ve heard of me, since I made my (ahem) foggy flight through the Florida night.
My full name is Nike Vapor Edge Pro 360. Size 14. Left shoe. I belong to Kole Taylor, a nice young man from Colorado who is a freshman on this year’s team.
Kole and I both knew this was going to be a big week for us after Arik Gilbert, the starting tight end, opted out of the rest of the season. But neither of us ever dreamed how big a role we were going to play against the Gators.
After a shocking win against Florida and ahead of signing day, LSU Coach Ed Orgeron has a lot to talk about.
At first it looked like the play was going to come to a frustrating end, like much of this season. It was third-and-10 from the LSU 25 and another freshman, Max Johnson, threw a pass to us in the left flat.
We were tackled after we gained just 4 yards, but we tried hard to get that first down. So hard, in fact, that I came off as we were slammed to the ground.
Now I’m here to tell you, coming off in the middle of the play is the last thing us shoes want to have happen. We’re supposed to be seen but unseen. You only notice us when we’re painted pink or when something bad happens, like Zion Williamson’s shoe blowing out when he played for Duke.
Or when someone sends us flying through the air.
I knew we didn’t make the first down. I knew the game was tied 34-34 and there were only about two minutes left, and that LSU would have to punt. I knew Florida had a great chance to come down and score and win the game.
I was crushed.
And then, I was airborne.
This Marco Wilson, who helped make the tackle, picked me up and launched me down field. Twenty-five yards, through the fog. Out above buildings. I was like, “Hey!!! What in the name of Chuck Taylor are you doing!?! Waaaaaaah!!!”
According to shoe sources (remember, we’re everywhere), this Marco Wilson and Elijah Moore are both from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Moore, who comes to Tiger Stadium this Saturday, was the Ole Miss player who lifted his leg like a dog in last year’s game against Mississippi State. That was the most outrageous thing to happen in college football … until me.
If I’m being totally honest, what Moore did was more out there. But what happened to me was definitely up there on the bizarre meter. To quote the legendary Austin Powers (Did you know he wears lifts? Again, something I heard), “Who throws a shoe? Honestly!”
As I flew, I saw the first-down marker Kole and I were trying to reach. Sailed past that. Then I noticed that the fog was much thicker above the field than it was on the ground, where I always am. Interesting. Lastly, I worried that this Florida player had thrown me so high I was going to hit one of the cables that holds up the SkyCam.
Then I hit the turf near the Florida 45. Ooof. I wasn’t hurt — we football cleats are made of tough, space age stuff. But I sure was stunned. Before I knew it, one of the team managers ran out and carried me off the field.
Looking back, I noticed something. Jaray Jenkins, an LSU receiver, was looking around and pointing, asking for a flag to be thrown. Then I saw a yellow flag. And another. I may just be a shoe, but I’m a football shoe and I know what those are for. It was a penalty. Were the flags, I wondered, for what just happened to me?
Yes, they were. Unsportsmanlike conduct. Fifteen yards and a first down. LSU had a first down at the 44 and new life. Kole jammed me back on (he didn’t take the time to untie my laces, like you should, but I understand) and the drive went on.
The Tigers moved as far as the Florida 39 before Cade York boomed that 57-yard field goal. I’m glad I’m not a kicker’s shoe, I can tell you … such migraines.
Florida’s kicker had a chance to tie at the end, but he missed. I swear I could hear the Florida kicker’s right shoe cry out in agony.
Final score: LSU 37, Florida 34.
Since then, my life has been a whirlwind. I’ve felt like Cinderella’s glass slipper and one of Usain Bolt’s gold cleats all rolled into one. This man took my picture that went — what do you say, viral? — on social media. I was even interviewed Monday on the SEC Network.
I’ll tell you what I told them: “Great players find a way to show up in big moments, and that’s what I did.”
Some people are saying me and “Shoegate” are the cherry on the top of this crazy cake of a 2020 season. Maybe so, but I have one more game to play, Saturday against Ole Miss.
I’m going out there to give my all again. But as nice as all the fame is, I sure hope I don’t come off Kole’s foot and go flying again.
Once is amazing. Twice would be embarrassing.