LSU football players dealing with emotions
By William Kalec, Staff writer
Thursday, 09/01, 6 p.m.
Spell your name, the man behind the camera asks. “S-K-Y-L-E-R G-R-E-E-N,” the LSU senior receiver said, eyes adjusting to the annoying fluorescent light.
This is for “ESPN Gameday,” Green is told. Tripping over this sensitive subject and the right way to ask someone whose family is stuck in their son’s apartment for at least a week, the camera crew’s questions are somewhat generic, but Green still provides some of the horrific details he’s seen on the news or heard about. His tone is respectfully soft.
Suddenly, a crewmember says, “let’s forget about all that” and asks about the season, perhaps not fully aware how winds in excess of 100 mph reduced Louisiana’s Saturday passion to trivial games.
As this awkward exchange evolved in the foreground, the most revealing sound bite capturing how Hurricane Katrina figuratively washed away the painted barriers separating players from fans went unrecorded when someone asked Shyrone Carey, “How everyone was?”
“I’m still trying to find out about my brother,” the senior from New Orleans said, rushing out of LSU’s indoor facility.
Stripped of their weekend armor, members of the LSU football team shared many of the same emotions after Katrina’s crippling march through New Orleans and the surrounding area. Green, like many with 504-area-code cell phones, learned about the limits of technology and was unable to contact friends from his Washington Place neighborhood in Avondale until Wednesday.
“As soon as you get the phone ringing, you’re excited because you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m going to get them.’” Green said. “And then that lady picks up and says ‘The Sprint PCS customer you are trying to reach is unavailable at this time.’ It was pretty hectic for everybody trying to get to a loved one.”
The water is slowly going down. His family is safe. But looters have left many of the shops Green and his family frequented unrecognizable. Landmarks poking through the flooded streets during news aerial shots led several evacuees from Kyle Williams wife’s side of the family to realize their house - near the UNO Lakefront campus - was engulfed.
“I don’t think you can tell those guys anything,” Williams said. “I don’t think you can say, ‘Hey, I know how you feel.’ Because you don’t.”
“It’s hard to imagine that that’s happening and it’s only 50 or 60 miles from us,” Williams said, earlier. “It’s definitely surreal. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like for those people … that have been coming out by rescue on top of their homes because the rest of their home isn’t there, anymore.”
Tired of feeling helpless, Williams borrowed a trailer from trainer Jack Marucci and within a day filled it with juice, sports drinks, clothing and pillows as players emptied their apartments and made several good-will visits to shelters in Baton Rouge.
“A lot of people just want to talk to you,” Williams said. “Share their story.”
Someone told Williams he waited on his roof for three days before being rescued. Strength trainer Tommy Moffitt was introduced to a man who made shoes out of roof shingles. Others just stared with tired, blank faces - their lives spread out on blankets and air mattresses.
“Football is obsolete, right now, in this state,” Williams said. “Probably for the next couple of weeks, we don’t need to talk about football. We need to take care of those people.”
NOTES: LSU senior associate athletic director Dan Radakovich said the school is in the final stages of rescheduling the postponed home game against North Texas, and that announcement should be made today. Athletic director Skip Bertman said LSU and North Texas are working with five to six other programs, hoping to flip-flop dates since the Tigers and Mean Green do not share a common bye week.
Bertman said LSU intends to host Arizona State on Sept. 10, but that relocating the game to Tempe, Ariz., is a possibility depending on campus relief efforts due to Hurricane Katrina.
“Today, we’re playing Arizona State. But everyday, something could happen,” Bertman said. “We are going to do what is in the best interest of the state and if recovery processes are not complete or there are other issues for which the campus is needed for help, obviously that will take precedent over a football game.”