It’s football season. And for those of you who love a good game, you really ought to read Nancy’s Mysterious Letter.
In just about every Nancy Drew Mystery Story, we hear about her “favorite date” Ned Nickerson’s prowess in football. It doesn’t matter what time of year, or where they are, football is going to come up. In fact Ned’s identity is totally wrapped up in being a football player. Just look at how he’s always introduced:
At eight o’clock Ned Nickerson, Emerson College’s star football player, arrived at the Drew home. He was a tall, good-looking athlete. (The Ringmaster’s Secret)
The tall, good-looking football player arrived at six o’clock. (The Clue in the Crossword Cipher)
(Apparently Ned’s tall, good-looking and punctual, too.)
The others heard her exclaim, “Ned! How good to hear from you. Where are you?” From there on Ned did most of the talking. He was an attractive Emerson College football player who dated Nancy exclusively. (The Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion)
“Ned!” she cried out in delight. “Hi! How is everything?” he asked. Nancy was fond of the tall, handsome football player from Emerson College and dated him almost exclusively. (The Crooked Banister)
Uh-oh. “Exclusively” and “almost exclusively” are not the same things. That could be a whole blog post in itself! But let’s move on, shall we?
The point is, we hear constantly about Ned playing football. And in Nancy’s Mysterious Letter, he actually plays!
EMERSON COUNTS ON NICKERSON TOE: That’s the headline in the local newspaper just before the big game against State. The game is so big, in fact, that Nancy sets aside her hunt for the swindler Edgar Nixon to go see Ned play.
I won’t spoil the game for you, but during the first half, this happens:
Now there was only one man between Ned and the goal line. The quarterback tried to side-step him.
Slam! With a bone-jarring tackle, Ned was brought to the turf twelve feet short of a six-pointer. He rose slowly from the ground and limped back into the huddle, but his chest hurt.
…When the ball was snapped, Ned rolled back and to his left. Emerson’s left end faked out the opposing halfback and dashed toward the corner of the field. Ned rifled a pass. It was a perfect pitch. The end caught it in his upstretched arms and fell across the goal line!
…“Come on, Ned!” Nancy cried out. “Make it seven!”
She felt confident about Ned’s place-kicking. The sportswriters had praised his toe.
Alas, it was not to be.
As Ned walked back into the huddle, he was still wincing with the pain in his chest. … Ned’s leg came forward, his toe hit the ball, and sent it sailing into the air as the spectators rose to their feet…. No good! The referee’s motion indicated that the ball had missed by inches…
Let me just interrupt to say that if Nancy had been the kicker, the ball would have gone through — chest pain or not. Just saying.
“What happened to the great Nickerson?” a State fan yelled. “He better go to another college where he can learn how to punt.”
Uh-oh. Trash-talking at an Emerson game!
Suddenly Nancy’s hand flew to her mouth as she stifled a shriek. “Oh no!”
Ned Nickerson had collapsed on the green turf.
Ah, so that explains the missed field goal! Ned is removed from the game, but as I’ve mentioned before, there is no need to worry about injuries requiring hospitalization in a Nancy Drew mystery. Ned is back on the field by the end of the game. And then, after the game…
Nancy was waiting by the door as Ned stepped out later. “You were simply magnificent,” she said.
Awwww. It’s so nice to see Nancy actually take an interest in Ned.
The next second Nancy’s expression changed completely. Ned noticed it at once. “What’s the matter?”
“Oh, I don’t want to take away any of the glory from the celebration,” she said, “but I just saw a man over there who looks like Edgar Nixon.”
Burt and Dave rush off to detain the man. And that brings us to the real reason why the football skills of Ned and his chums are so important to Nancy. It’s not on the football field that their skills really count.
By this time, the robber was almost to the entrance to the grounds. Ned quickly turned onto the path. The next second he grabbed the man in a crunching football tackle. (The Mysterious Mannequin)
Ned ran into the hall, intending to tackle the intruder. (The Scarlet Slipper Mystery)
Ned leaped for the man’s legs and brought him down in a smashing tackle. (The Whispering Statue)
Anyone entering by this means would be surprised with a hard football tackle. Secretly Ned hoped he would have the chance. (The Clue of the Tapping Heels)
Well, OK so it’s not just Nancy. Ned rather enjoys tackling robbers, intruders and swindlers, too. I guess I can see why they are meant for each other.