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Bronko and MuffyPosted Thursday, October 9, 2008, at 11:26 AM
Bronislaw "Bronko" Nagurski was born in 1908 and grew up on the family farm near International Falls, Minnesota, where he ran four miles each day to school.
Muffy was my ex-wife's Shih Tzu, a small dog that looks like the business end of a dust mop with all the charm of a wolverine having a bad hair day.
In the summer of 1926, the University of Minnesota football coach made a trip up to International Falls to recruit a player. When he got lost, he pulled over to the Nagurski family farm field and asked a young lad for directions. Bronko raised the plow with one hand to point the direction and quickly became the object of the recruiting trip.
On January 3, 1990, Muffy and my ex-wife, whose hobby is buying things she can't afford, had unexpectedly stopped by my cactus ranch in Arizona, basically avoiding various creditors hot on their trail. Between the two of them, Muffy was the only one who was properly house trained. They stayed just long enough to consume everything in my refrigerator and dirty every dish I owned without having to wash one.
Four days later, on January 7, my ex-wife and Muffy departed for parts unknown.
It was the same day Bronko Nagurski died.
I never saw Muffy again.
Bronko Nagurski was 6 feet 2 inches and 235 pounds of brute strength and awesome tenacity. As a senior at the University of Minnesota in 1929, he was named a first-team all-American at both fullback and defensive tackle, the only player in history ever so honored at two positions in the same year. As a fullback with the Chicago Bears (1930-37), Nagurski once bulldozed his way over the goal line, knocking one defender unconscious, breaking the collarbone of another defender and crashing into the wall in the back of the end zone where he cracked several bricks.
In 1985, I was living in Topanga, California, a bohemian enclave in the mountains near Los Angeles, when Muffy and my ex-wife showed up on my doorstep for similar reasons. One afternoon, Muffy and I were sitting on the stoop when a pack of nasty dogs came strolling by, prompting a menacing snarl from one of us. At first, the five large dogs were bewildered by a seven-pound wad of dog hair harassing them. But Muffy soon joined them and led the pack off into the hills to mess with various critters like rattlesnakes and mountain lions and DEA Agents. The pack returned a couple of hours later with Muffy still in the lead. From that day on, no dog in Topanga ever messed with me.
When Bronko Nagurski retired from football and later from professional wrestling, he opened a gas station back in International Falls. Once you bought a tank of gas from him, you never bought gas anywhere else -- he screwed the cap on so tight, no one else could get it off.
Bronko is the perfect name for a powerful fullback, considered by many to be the greatest football player of all time.
Muffy is not the perfect name for a perpetual snit fit that leads packs of nasty dogs into the wilderness.
My ex-wife had a knack for overlooking the obvious and solving problems by avoiding them. I took her everywhere but she always kept finding her way back.
Bronko and Muffy are both gone now but my ex-wife remains on the loose somewhere down in Texas, probably still dodging creditors and overlooking the obvious.
I sure do miss that dog.
Quote for the Day -- "As I travel, on life's pathway.... Know not what the years may hold.... As I ponder, hope grows fonder.... Precious memories flood my soul...." song lyrics by J.B.F. Wright
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Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist for The News (2001-2007) and author of four novels. He has lived in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, Memphis and the middle of the Arizona desert. After a life of blood, sweat and tears in big cities, he has finally found peace in northern Arkansas where he grows tomatoes, watches sunsets and occasionally shares the Secrets of the Universe (and beyond) with the rest of the world.