Digital Sports Editor
Editor’s Note: This story is meant for the entertainment of the reader. Any names, characters and incidents portrayed in this work are fictitious, satirical interpretations of any real-life persons or events.
Oklahoma State cornerback Ramon Richards looked in the mirror and added a strand of navy blue to his dreadlocks. The blue was mixed with the red, green and blonde already at the tips of his hair.
The new color was necessary. Richards had a new victim.
Pittsburgh was driving in its hurry-up offense. The Panthers were now in Cowboy territory. Pitt needed to be stopped if OSU wanted to hang on to its 45-38 lead and improve to 2-1 after an upset loss to Central Michigan the week before.
Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman dropped back and scanned the field. He saw an open man on the right side of the field and fired the ball. The receiver was open when the ball left Peterman’s hand. The play should have been a first down and set up a game-tying touchdown for the Panthers. But it didn’t.
The ball spiraled through the air and landed in Richards’ hands. He ran three steps then slid to the turf. Moments later, OSU quarterback Mason Rudolph took a knee and ended the game.
Richards celebrated on the sidelines with other defensive players. It was just another day in the life of Ramon Richards.
Richards squinted as the bright lights from the news cameras shined in his eyes during the postgame press conference. Reporters bombarded him with questions about his game-clinching interception. They wanted to know how. How, Richards, how are you always in position for the important interception?
“I just hustle to the ball and try to do my job and try to do my responsibility,” Richards said. “If I do that, the ball’s gonna come to me. I don’t focus on trying to get turnovers. If I just do my responsibility, it’ll come.”
Richards said he knew the ball would come to him. He almost let his secret slip. Every player hustles on the field; that’s not the real reason why Richards leads the Cowboys in interceptions.
No one actually knows how Richards does it. OSU coach Mike Gundy mentioned that Richards is always “in the right place at the right time.” Gundy has noticed Richards unique ability but is ignorant to how it’s done. Everyone’s realized Richards’ knack to find the football, but everyone, including his teammates, is dumbfounded.
“I figured he was gonna make that play,” OSU safety Jordan Sterns said. “That’s just what Ramon does. He’s always in the right place at the right time.”
Sterns is closer to finding Richards’ secret than anyone. Sterns said Richards told him after the Pitt game that Richards knew he was going get that interception.
“How?” Sterns wondered.
Richards gave him a simple answer: from watching film.
Richards doesn’t actually need to watch film. That’s why he has enough time on his hands to take dates to eat oatmeal raisin cookies.
Richards’ mind is his secret weapon. During one film session, he learns everything about his opponent. He learns their every move during competition. He memorizes the opponent’s playbook.
Once everything is taken care of off the field, Richards straps on his helmet and exits the tunnel at Boone Pickens Stadium.
This is when Richards shows off his distinct difference.
During the Cowboys’ first game of the season, OSU held a 31-7 lead against Southeastern Louisiana. OSU linebacker Devante Averette scooped up a fumble but was running out of green near the sideline. Richards watched the play unfold a few yards away. Richards realized he hadn’t made a highlight all game and this was his chance.
Time stood still for a split second for Richards. He saw what was about to happen and sprinted towards Averette.
Just as Richards arrived, Averette tossed the ball behind his back; just like Richards predicted. Richards caught Averette’s desperate attempt at a pitch and returned it for a 9-yard touchdown.
Later that night, as Richards added Southeastern Louisiana’s green to his hair, the play of that day’s game was featured on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays. Seeing himself on ESPN was no big deal for Richards. Besides, he had an advantage over everyone else.
Not only was he smarter than his counterparts (Richards was accepted into Harvard and Yale), but he also had an extra special ability. The same ability that gave his distant cousin, Raven Baxter, her own TV show on Disney. Richards has the same rare psychic ability, however, he can only use it once a game.
Richards studies his opponent before every game to know the perfect time to alter the game with his ability. Until Sept. 10, he had never been wrong before.
As usual, Richards was waiting for the perfect time against Central Michigan. With the Cowboys leading 27-24 with 3:10 left, Richards figured it was time. He had his back to CMU quarterback Cooper Rush but still saw what was coming next. Just as Richards turned around, the ball fell into his hands. Cowboy fans erupted, thinking Richards’ interception had sealed OSU’s second win of the season.
The rest of the game was out of Richards’ control. Rudolph threw a pass out of bounds on fourth down as time expired. Richards was unable to predict what happened next.
The officials called intentional grounding and gave CMU an untimed down. Richards had never been wrong before. The officials’ mistake ruined his plan. Rush launched a pass to Richards’ man, Jesse Kroll. Richards brought Kroll to the turf and thought he had ended the game, just like he believed he had moments before. For once, Richards was just like everyone else in the stadium and didn’t know what was coming next.
Kroll pitched the ball to Corey Willis and the receiver ran the ball into the end zone. CMU pulled off the upset, but even more surprising, Richards didn’t know what was coming for the first time ever.
That night, Richards’ head swirled. He still had to put that CMU red that he now hated in his hair, for he had a new victim in Rush. Richards tallied his first interception of the season, but Rush flew back to Mt. Pleasant with a 2-0 record.
Richards couldn’t be wrong again. He hated that feeling. That’s why Richards was so hesitant to use his ability against Pitt. Even before his game-winning interception, Richards was still timid with 15 seconds left. However, when the ball touched Richards’ fingertips, he knew it was over this time. He sprinted to the sideline and defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer was the first to meet Richards as he pumped his fist through the air.
Spencer didn’t know how, but it happened. As the two walked into the tunnel together after the game, Spencer questioned Richards’ skill. Earlier that game, Richards was burnt for a touchdown on a slant route. Now, he was the hero after an interception.
Spencer took off his visor and pointed to his hair line.
“You’re the reason I have this receding hair line,” Spencer told Richards.
Richards pushed his dreadlocks out of his face and smiled.