Leave It on the Field


Dr. Robert B. Pankey

As many of you all know, I left Carbondale in 1969 to attend University of Missouri and play football there as a student athlete. One of my close friends and teammates was a kid out of St. Louis named John Linquist. John was given a partial scholarship which included books and lunch at the training table. John was from a middle class family and he could barely afford tuition, let alone room and board. But the one thing he could do well was play football.

As time went on like it always does, John was utilized as a Scout Team player, and he continued to play on the Scout Team for the four years that I was there from 69 - 73. He basically was used as cannon fodder for the starting teams as Rudy was for Notre Dame! Since John lived on the back porch of a fraternity house, on the way from the training table to my dorm, I would grab a couple of ice cream sandwiches on my way out the door and drop by the Sigma Pi house and give them to John to go along with his baked potato or whatever else he could scrounge up to eat for dinner with his small toaster oven.

John, “Link” as we all called him, suffered tremendous health issues after leaving Mizzou, but he was very successful as a coach and teacher in the St Louis ISD. Among his health problems, he suffered cancer of the bladder and beat it! He had to have a couple of cervical vertebrae fused as I’m sure was due to too many traumatic hits to the head and shoulders while he was a scout team player.

Through all the years, he never missed the opportunity to touch base with me or send me Christmas cards. He is, in my heart, a hero to me! He was one of those athletes who was placed in the background of all the success that Mizzou had experienced in those years when I played at Mizzou.

Last week, I got a call from my roommate at Mizzou, Moe Siemers, and he said John Linquist had a blackout and fell during an exercise walk! He evidently struck his head, and broke his neck. I cried when I heard that he laid in his own puddle of blood for two hours before he was rescued by a medical team. Without the ability to move his arms or legs, he survived. Little is known about the residual effects of trauma from repeated blows to the head, especially from those like John experienced during his stint as an athlete for four years at Mizzou. Rest assured, his blackout was probably related, in some way or another, to those years of head trauma. I pray that Link will make it and be back on his feet some day, but in the meantime, I’m sending ice cream
sandwiches, and hoping that he continues to survive, like he did a thousands times before when we were smacking pads and playing the game we loved at Mizzou.

Here’s to you, “Link”: keep fighting and keep leaving all you have out there on the field! I love ya.


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