As he lay motionless and semiconscious on the grass of Byrd Stadium with an injured neck Saturday, the first thing Norman (Boomer) Esiason thought about was what his grandmother would say when she found out.
"Before any game my grandmother always tells me, 'Now don't you go and get yourself hurt,' " Esiason said yesterday. "That's why she never comes to games."
Esiason's grandmother can rest easier now. Except for lingering soreness in his back and neck, the sophomore quarterback said yesterday he feels all right with an injury now being called a jammed neck.
"I intend to practice this week," Esiason said. "I definitely feel I can play on Saturday (at Tulane). It would take a broken leg or a broken arm to keep me off the field. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I won the starting quarterback job because of an injury (to Brent Dewitz) and I don't want to lose it that way."
Esiason practiced lightly yesterday and took whirlpool treatment. "It's only stiff when I get out of bed in the morning," he said. "They wanted me to wear a neck brace, but I said, 'Wait a minute. No neck brace.' "
Esiason can joke about it now. But no one was laughing in those few agonizing moments when he was wheeled off the field on a stretcher and placed in an ambulance for a trip to the hospital.
"I realize now how fortunate I am to have suffered only a jammed neck," he said. "I didn't see him (North Carolina tackler Calvin Daniels) coming. He hit me under my right shoulder. And for about two seconds, I was knocked out. It felt like a train had hit me. But Daniels was just doing his job.
"I remember getting up on all fours, but I was dizzy. So I rolled over to lie down for just a second and that's when I first felt a shooting pain in my back. I felt pain in my back and neck, but I could move my arms and legs, so I knew it was nothing serious. The doctor and the trainers and the coaches were asking me about 64 questions.
"Then I remember hearing all the cheers while they were putting me in the ambulance, and I was on the verge of crying. I didn't think it was that big a deal. But at the (Washington Adventist) hospital the nurse said there were 40 or 50 telephone calls for me in two hours.
"My dad got in the ambulance with me and for some reason he asked me, 'What are you doing?' I said, 'What kind of question is that? I'm just lying here.' He was as dizzy as I was," Esiason said.
"My main concern now is thanking all those people who called me at the hospital and here in the dorm. I'm really surprised. I get all misty just thinking about it now. I wrote a letter that hopefully will be published in the Diamondback (the student newspaper) today, thanking everybody who was concerned about me. I didn't expect that response at all, but it sure feels good.
"I don't know if it would be the right thing to do, but I've been thinking about writing a letter to Daniels, telling him I don't hate him for what happened. He hit me a good shot. I don't hold any grudge against him.
"I read the next day that he felt really bad about what happened. That goes to show how all that North Carolina-Maryland hate stuff was blown out of proportion."
With Esiason at practice, the main injury concern for the Terrapins is starting linebacker Joe Wilkins. He suffered a concussion during the Carolina game and did not practice yesterday. His status for Saturday is unknown. Film of Saturday's game revealed that Terrapin defensive back Lendell Jones blocked a Carolina field goal attempt in the first quarter, not Frank Kolencik, who originally was credited with the block but got only a piece of the ball.