The Crying Man

By Ramzy Nasrallah on August 27, 2014 at 1:15p
Orlas King, 1998
122 Comments

He is unwillingly discharged from beyond the grave to mock us.

The snapshot is from the aftermath of that impossible loss to Michigan State in 1998. It's the only evidence of any sound in the stadium that night, as most of the 93,595 shellshocked fans who wandered out onto the streets did so without saying a word.

That afternoon the Buckeyes had a 24-9 lead, and then a punt hit Nate Clements in the back. Something strange then happened to the air on the field: Guys who never fumble fumbled. Every jump ball, every 50/50 play and every single break went the Spartans' way, yet the most dominating Ohio State team since 1968 was still in position to win on the final play.

But it did not. The crying man was one of many grown men who openly wept that evening. A camera found him amidst the confusion following the game - but that was only because a camera always found him. 

He now shows up unwillingly after every loss, however rare those may be. Go ahead and Google crying Buckeye fan and you'll find the photo above hosted on Michigan blogs, message boards and everywhere else you would expect to find people relishing in any Ohio State setback. He reappears every time the Buckeyes lose.

His image is sought and presented with hurtful intentions, though anyone who actually knew him might find comfort in seeing him openly weep for Ohio State football - because he did it all of the time

The crying man has been dead for a decade now. He had a name. It was Orlas King.


My father's Ohio State tickets were in B-Deck for ten years. I still absolutely loathe B-Deck even though our old seats no longer exist, thanks to stadium renovations. That section received shelter from the elements at the deep expense of game experience.

Due to the overhang we had no view of the scoreboard. What happened to a football once it left the punter's foot or a quarterback's hand was a mystery until it reappeared on the back end of its arc. Our section of B-Deck basically watched football games through a letterbox tunnel. The roar of the stadium came from mostly obscured fans above us, as C-Deck was merely a rumor when you sat beneath it.

However, we had an immaculate view of a giant concrete pillar to our left, and our seats were directly across the Horseshoe from The Neutron Man's. This meant every time the band queued up the Pointer Sisters' swan song we were treated to a Rockwellian image of Orlas King high-stepping with his finger guns, asymmetrically framed by the backsides of thousands of heads turned in his direction to take it all in. 

I cannot forget the day I solved what the Neutron Man was all about: It was October 15, 1988. Ohio State was on its way to losing a third-straight game, this time at home to Purdue. They were going to be 2-4 in John Cooper's first season and I had begun to detach myself emotionally from the team in order to better cope with the inescapable fact that the Buckeyes...just really sucked. 

I wanted to love anything as emphatically as Neutron Man loved Ohio State.

As the game wound down and the unfortunate outcome began to reveal itself, the band struck up Neutron Dance one final time. I remember thinking man, who wants to dance right now? My eyes, along with thousands of others immediately turned toward where the Neutron Man was situated, as everyone always knew where that was. Orlas immediately popped up out of his seat and began happily shaking his ass as if the Buckeyes were up by 56. 

It made me feel better. Surely he was as miserable as we all were watching that Buckeye team lose at home to Purdue (a week earlier it was humiliated in Bloomington) but I think he understood that his tribe depended on him. It wasn't just the football, the cheerleaders, Brutus or the band; he had become part of the show every Saturday over the previous decades.

Orlas pocketed his disappointment for those 45 seconds and did his dance for everybody as the Buckeyes prepared to lose once again. For about a minute, the Buckeyes didn't suck anymore, as the Neutron Man's moves briefly shielded us from that reality.

I was detached teenager, catatonic and wrestling with an epiphany: I wanted to love anything as emphatically as Neutron Man loved Ohio State.


Orlas was known as the B-Deck Dancer until Beverly Hills Cop hit the theaters and launched Neutron Dance into the national consciousness, FM radio's pop music echo chamber and ultimately Ohio State home games. 

The song fit him like nothing else the band had ever covered before, and the sight of a middle-aged man in a jersey, beanie and dad shorts dancing to Pointer Sisters as if no one was watching him was just too much. The joyous chant began and spread throughout from the rest of the stadium: Neu-tron Man! Neu-tron Man! Neu-tron Man!

neutron man

The B-Deck Dancer had found his opus, and it quickly became his moniker. He didn't name himself - the stadium did.

He danced when he wanted to as well as when he knew he had to - even when he probably didn't feel like dancing. More importantly, Orlas didn't seek out and find cameras intent on spreading his brand. Instead he went to fans, students, blue-hairs - everyone - and implored them to make a difference in the game's outcome, whether he was in Ohio Stadium for a nationally-televised contest or at a high school game without cameras. Be louder. We can win this!

Neutron Man was an interested spectator, but more than that - he was a heavily-invested emotional stakeholder who took being a Buckeye fan very seriously. He wasn't interested in seeing Ohio State's home field advantage being squandered to seated comfort or entitlement. Fans have a purpose. They can help determine the outcome.

he redirected all of the attention he was receiving to the cheerleaders and the band. 

Once his celebrity began to grow to the point where it seemed overwhelming, he redirected all of the attention he was receiving to the cheerleaders and the band. He used that popularity to raise money to fund cheerleading scholarships, because cheerleaders have a noble purpose: They can help determine the outcome of the game.

The term superfan has taken on a negative connotation as of late within Ohio State circles due to the perceived intent of these guys who dress up in their own costumes, hunt for television cameras and openly engage in self-promotion. At least one of them has appearance fees - if you would like him to show up at your tailgate.

But there should be no confusion about what Neutron Man's intentions were. Ohio State had to win every Saturday, and he firmly believed he could contribute to that materializing. That's what superfan really means.


rose bowl

Everything you've ever heard about the Rose Bowl and Pasadena is true, but it's something you cannot adequately capture through television, creative language or glossy photographs.

You have to stand there, see it, breathe the air and feel the ambient energy to understand that this setting - for a football game or anything else - is perfection. There is no better college football venue on this planet or any other.

The Buckeyes have played in Pasadena twice this century; once in the 2010 Rose Bowl against Oregon and the other in Jim Tressel's second game as head coach, against UCLA. That one was originally scheduled to be his third game, but 9/11 abruptly cancelled the September 15 slate. Two weeks after terrorists used airplanes as weapons of mass destruction Ohio State boarded one for Los Angeles.

I also made it to LA that week, though when you're named Ramzy Nasrallah and airport security screening is as primitive as it was in 2001, you receive what can be kindly described as an extended security check. I sheepishly stood in O'Hare Airport at 6am - three hours before takeoff, as travelers had been instructed - between two uniformed soldiers carrying machine guns as agents rifled through my belongings while my friends helpfully shouted let him go he's more American than you at them.

"Dude, I told you to put porn and ham in your carry-on!"  Screamed one of my friends as soon as the TSA deemed me a non-threat. "You would have been through there in like 30 seconds." Truthfully, I had changed my laptop wallpaper to an American flag but stopped short of over-Americanizing my belongings.

ohio state ucla 2001
The offense didn't score a touchdown that day.

Two days later we were reliving the merriment of my security woes with new friends we had just met, with the San Gabriel mountains as a backdrop. It was the early morning of Saturday, September 22nd. Football had been halted for two weeks during a football month, 9/11 had shattered everyone's spirit and we just really needed a game.

We were already soaking in sunshine and cheap beer, trying to feel normal again. Afroman's Because I Got High was blasting out of every tailgate within earshot. Cavity search was being said where I was standing a little too frequently, with accompanying laughter at my expense.

I lost interest in the story as it was being told and my eyes wandered around to other tailgates nearby. They stopped on three men tailgating with the absolute barest of necessities, which meant they were standing around a keg of beer and nothing else.

One of them was a middle-aged man in a jersey, beanie and dad shorts. His cherubic face was aimed skyward as he vociferously finished off the beer in his red plastic cup.

"Holy shit," I said, interrupting the story about me. "It's Neutron Man." The group looked over and saw him addressing their keg. I walked over to meet him in my white #5 jersey. I introduced myself and told him about my epiphany from 1988 Purdue game when I could tell he didn't want to dance and thanked him for everything he does. He seemed to appreciate it.

"You know," he told me, "you look like Sammy Maldonado in that #5 jersey." During that period this was something I heard every time I wore the number five. The highly-sought after running back from New York never really caught on in Columbus, but at the time everyone couldn't wait to see Sammy the Bull finally break out. We share similar faces and skin tone, apparently.

"I am Sammy Maldonado," I whispered. "Just going to finish this beer before I head in for warm-ups." 

Neutron Man roared like it was the funniest thing he had ever heard. "Well hurry up!" He shouted. "You're wasting time!" I finished off the beer I was drinking, quickly dug into my pocket for my keys, poked a hole in the base of the unopened can of lukewarm Natural Light I was also holding - and promptly shotgunned it to the boisterous cheers of Ohio Stadium's most famous dancer.

It was a role-reversal I'll always treasure: The man that I and the rest of Ohio Stadium cheered on every Saturday was now cheering me on. September of 2001 was an incredibly stressful month for everybody, let alone for those of us who got back into airplanes as soon as we were allowed to. Those breakfast beers with Neutron Man were the first time things just felt normal again.

As great of a release as the morning was, the Buckeyes stunk up the field a few hours later, losing to UCLA and revealing that 2001 would be a transitional struggle. Still, everything you've heard about the Rose Bowl and Pasadena is true. The entire day was immaculate, outside of the football being played by the visitors.

But for about a minute that day the Buckeyes did not suck. The Neutron Man briefly shielded me from that reality.


neutron man 2001
Neutron Man at the Northwestern game in 2001.

Orlas' father used to take him to one game a year when he was a child.  It was his favorite day of the year. Like so many of us - me included - it was his father who introduced him to the cultural importance of fall Saturdays. You go down to campus and you get to be young again. Decades pass and your father still always sits right beside you, even when he isn't there.

Neutron Man died in the middle of a three-game losing streak in 2004, right when we needed him the most. The last Ohio State football he ever watched was Northwestern's only win against the Buckeyes over the past 40 years. He woke up in his condo in Florida the following week, ate his breakfast and then waited for the rest of his golfing foursome to arrive. They found him in the kitchen.

He was mourned for weeks. The band played Neutron Dance and everyone looked toward his seats, hoping he would still be there. Ohio Stadium had lost its only true bleacher act, and no one dared to replace the B-Deck Dancer who had openly cried after the Buckeyes lost to the Spartans in 1998.

Neutron Dance STILL belongs to him. The POINTER SISTERS' VERSION IS RELEGATED TO THE FORGOTTEN HITS OF THE 1980s.

If there is one way to remember Orlas King, it's in the throes of his signature happy dance. That song still belongs to him. The Pointer Sisters' version is relegated to the forgotten hits of the 1980s.

But if there is a second way to remember him, it's in full-blown tears. That's the thing about that famous photo that's repeatedly circulated with unkind intentions: Neutron Man cried all of the time.

He cried openly in November 1996 in Bloomington after Matt Finkes clinched Ohio State's berth in the Rose Bowl, and wept in public again the following week when the undefeated Buckeyes pulled off yet another magnificent collapse against 17-point underdog Michigan. He cried when he sat in Ohio Stadium on his favorite day of the year with his father as well as during all of the games he attended as an adult with his father beside him, even when he wasn't there.

He cried when Ohio State beat Miami in Tempe and he cried when that winning streak ended the following season in Madison. As it turns out, that famous photo of him isn't unkind at all. It's a tribute to a man who loved Ohio State more than many people love anything. 

So while Orlas may be unwillingly discharged from beyond the grave with the intent to mock Ohio State fans, he ends up doing the opposite. That image isn't hurtful at all. If anything, it's comforting. Sure, Buckeye fans cry when the football team loses - but we do the exact same thing when they win too. We just care that much.

And the crying man is a reminder that Ohio State is fortunate enough to have fans who still dance, even while the Buckeyes are losing. 

122 Comments

Comments

BrutusB's picture

Wow.  I don't even have anything of significance to add, but that was a hell of a write up on a guy I only "knew" from old clips.

+11 HS
whiskeyjuice's picture

YES!! BRAVO and WELL DONE!!

"You'll find out that nothing that comes easy is worth a dime. As a matter of fact, I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face." -- Wayne Woodrow Hayes

+4 HS
timhbomb's picture

Orlas was an extremely nice and friendly man.  I worked at his country club during college and was always gracious and friendly.  RIP Neutron Man

+9 HS
WC Buckeye's picture

I watched and enjoyed him from the lower level of 11B for four years as an undergraduate. It was a great pleasure to meet him in person in Tempe, and have him graciously pose for a photograph with my three kids. Solid, lovable, gentle, and committed Buckeye. RIP Orlas.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

Waltbuck's picture

Brings back good memories....great article.

+6 HS
THE's picture

Yes it does. I loved Nuetron Man. I remember being a student in the south stands and always finding Nuetron Man to the right (east) and then forgetting about it until it was time to boogie.

Embarrassingly, I never realized it was him in this picture, though I've seen it hundreds of times. 

Drivin > Disco > Drivin.
To the people in the bathroom, how's it going in there?

+1 HS
NateB's picture

Lots of memories come back with this write up.  

As a kid I begged my parents to send me to a game. They finally conceded. One of the things I was most looking forward to was seeing the Neutron Man do his thing. The man was a stud!

bucksfan92's picture

Very nice article.  I was a high school senior during that dismal '88 season, and I know what you mean about Neutron Man.  He was the true super fan.  The two spotlight seeking fools that call themselves that now annoy and disgust me, and I pay no attention to them at all.  Mr. King didn't seek attention, he just wanted to help his team get the energy they needed to win.

And that MSU game... I still don't think I am over it.  I still don't even know how we lost that game. I have replayed it a million times in my mind.  We were on our way to another routine blow out victory, and a shanked punt by MSU, when we had them pinned deep, which should have led to another OSU touchdown, flipped the entire season on it's head.  That was the biggest upset in college football history until our friends from Boone, NC took that honor :)

+7 HS
ISURVIVEDCOOPER's picture

Long live the memory of Orlas King - loved watching him do his thing during the games and made the experience of gamedays a special treat.  Definitely in my top 5 Ohio Stadium memories (the others being the entrance of the band (and script Ohio), the ringing of the bells, storming the field when we beat TSUN in '94)

"I don't apologize for anything.  When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

+3 HS
DefendYoungstown's picture

Great read!!! A few things that stand out:

Everything you've ever heard about the Rose Bowl and Pasadena is true, but it's something you cannot adequately capture through television, creative language or glossy photographs.

You have to stand there, see it, breathe the air and feel the ambient energy to understand that this setting - for a football game or anything else - is perfection. There is no better college football venue on this planet or any other.

I sheepishly stood in O'Hare Airport at 6am - three hours before takeoff, as travelers had been instructed - between two uniformed soldiers carrying machine guns as agents rifled through my belongings while my friends helpfully shouted let him go he's more American than you at them.

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

+2 HS
daveyt11's picture

WOW...very moving. I met him at a pregame pep rally in 92...great guy!

+2 HS
Otown Buckeye's picture

Crying when we win, crying when we lose, doing it with family, friends, and my trusty hound Archie is what reminds me that life is beautiful, and that _ichigan sucks.  GO BUCKS.  

"because we couldn't go for three"

+9 HS
Strelly_C89's picture

I remember my dad taking me out to Columbus for games when I was a little boy.  We would sit in an area near the Neutron Man, and I could not wait to scan the crowd, looking for him and waiting patiently to see him dance wildly.  Great article!

+4 HS
Buckeye1996's picture

Three things.

1) Great article Ramzy

2) RIP NM

3) Gut MSU this year

+4 HS
osu07asu10's picture

He danced when he wanted to as well as when he knew he had to - even when he probably didn't feel like dancing. More importantly, Orlas didn't seek out and find cameras intent on spreading his brand.

Hmmm......

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

+17 HS
Barnsey69's picture

Anti-Neutron Man.

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

+25 HS
Boxley's picture

Easily my least favorite "buckeye fan".

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

+14 HS
FitzBuck's picture

Not the big nut?  They both suck.  On a side note I suck.  I never knew about this man and I'm grateful Ramzy wrote this.  I will look at the picture of him crying whenever it pops up randomly and think of this.  Great job Ramzy.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

+1 HS
Barnsey69's picture

All three are pure cheese. I read somewhere that one of them gives out buckeyes to all the incoming frosh at the dorms, so I'll give him a thimble of respect. Otherwise, nothing to see here...move along.

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

+1 HS
mphillips87's picture

Asked this doofus for a picture a few years back (when i didnt know any better) and he declined.

+2 HS
MAVBuck's picture

and now him and the buck-nut walk around asking you to take pictures with them while handing out fliers to their twitter or something. i respectfully declined.

BeijingBucks's picture

because you have to check in with his official sponsors first I'd warrant

 

 

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

Bucksfan70's picture

big ol' pimp.

“Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't.” - Jerry Rice

+1 HS
tbdbitlbuck's picture

Orlas also sponsored a picnic for the band every year before school started. One glorious afternoon, we would get to take off the afternoon of practice and go to Fred Beekman Park where Orlas served up Ponderosa steaks and other dishes (he owned a few of the restaurants) and took time just to talk with band members and how much he appreciated us.

+9 HS
psibuck's picture

Well said, Ramzy.  I met Neutron Man at the Marshall game in 2004 (Thank you, Mike Nugent) just a few weeks before he passed.  He was gracious enough to take a pic with me.  Loved that guy.

+4 HS
Crumb's picture

That was the only time I was in Ohio Stadium at the same time as Neutron Man. It was the first game I ever got to attend in person and I was like a kid in a candy store. My friend explained to me that Neutron Man was a 'silly guy who dances who everyone loves.' I may not dance but I learned to love the Buckeyes as much as Neutron Man did. It's why I love going to the games even alone because I have that attitude that we the fans can make a difference and we should be loud and proud.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

+2 HS
bukyze's picture

The Neutron Man was definintely a football tradition for OSU.  During the late 80's, my student tickets were on the West side 15 yard line, and the Neutron Man never (if I could underline never, I would) failed to fire up the crowd.  Unfortunately, his legacy will eventually fade as those who admired him ultimately fade away as well.  RIP, Orlas.

+10 HS
Buckeyeneer's picture

Unfortunately, his legacy will eventually fade as those who admired him ultimately fade away as well.

I wish that the band would play Neutron Dance and put some old footage of him up on the scoreboard every home game and keep his memory alive. I was sure that they would after he passed since they had some old scoreboard videos of him. I still hold out hope.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

+11 HS
osupolo's picture

I second that neer. Can we start an 11w petition for this? 

+2 HS
Buckeyeneer's picture

Anyone know how to do a Kickstarter? The band could use some welcome news.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

+1 HS
TheKid94's picture

As a current student, I've heard and suggested many ideas about improving fan experience and this one just went to the top of my list.

+2 HS
Qujo's picture

This! and bring the Band Director - Walters back. Have him sign a non-judgment agreement, pay him a $1M more a year and let him bring back the MOJO of both the TBDBITL and Neutron Man. No new "Buckeye Guy or Buckeye Man" match NM's love for the Buckeyes. He just energized the crowd without seeking to be on ESPN every week. He also wasn't that fat ass with scarlet and gray stupidity on. Hate when ESPN or Fox or BTN show fat fat fat people that supposedly represent the Buckeye Nation, they don't.

"Tough times don't last, tough people do" - Gregory Peck

+1 HS
FitzBuck's picture

I'm behind this. (Band and video board playing video of NM)

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

Barnsey69's picture

When I was a kid, and you could throw paper airplanes, toilet paper rolls, and damn near anything that wasn't going to harm those below, this was how I spent my games. My dad, who was a professor at OSU and knew everything about Shakespeare, but nothing about football, would get season tickets for my sister and I. However, as much as I enjoyed seeing how far a paper airplane would fly from our seats in C-Deck, nothing was more fun than waiting for and then watching "the dancing guy". A few years later when the actual football being played was more important than paper airplanes (not to mention A-Deck seats by this point), I still looked forward to the Neutron man just as much as I had in my youth.

We haven't had a fan tradition in Ohio Stadium like him since, and we probably never will again.

RIP Orlas, you were the man.

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

+9 HS
Bucks1's picture

Very well written, thank you!

"I will pound you and pound you until you quit." - Woody Hayes

+2 HS
BuckToAsT's picture

Great write up! I was at the first game of the post-NM era.  Sad day.  I remember how somber the Neutron Dance felt that day . . . RIP

See you in Buckeye heaven!

Buckeye BadDog's picture

“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special.” Jim Valvano

Cry when needed. It proves you have something to live for.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
- Albert Einstein

"Nothing that comes easy is worth a dime." - Woody Hayes

+7 HS
bucked up's picture

There's a reason I bring sunglasses to every game I attend at The Horseshoe, even if the Buckeyes are playing at night...

We all have a little Neutron Man within us

+2 HS
saluki2007's picture

Thanks for the feels this afternoon.

buckIalum's picture

I'll never look at that picture the same way because of who he was, but also because of how you told it. Well done, Ramzy.

+8 HS
Zimmy07's picture

I agree - thanks for the great article, Ramzy.  I had no idea who he was.

+1 HS
What Would Troy Smith Do's picture

That is a really cool story about something I only knew by picture.  I didn't even know who he was or when that was taken.

It's a good reminder that while it seems really sad/pathetic a grown man would cry over a football game it might just be more complicated than that.  Imagine growing up and your favorite memories/days are those spent with your dad watching or attending the game.  I think that is perfectly illustrated by Rudy's family's feelings towards Notre Dame in the movie.  It's not that Football is more important than everything.  In fact, as much as you may love it, it won't come close to family or many other things in your life.  But that doesn't make the love any less real, especially when you can share it with those you love and there is nothing sad/pathetic about that.

+1 HS
BeatTTUN's picture

You can blame the 2001 loss to UCLA and the 1985 Rose Bowl on me

I am 0-2 @ the Rose Bowl

Neutron Man was spectacular aside from

TBDBITL entrance

TBDBITL Script Ohio

Hang On Sloopy leading off the 4th Quarter

The Ohio State Buckeyes taking the field

time runs out and the Buckeyes are victorious over TTUN

nothing amped up Ohio Stadium more than the Neutron Man, he did what we all wanted to do but lacked the courage, Go FULL BUCKEYE for all of humanity to see

Go Buckeyes Beat Michigan

+1 HS
CTBuckeye's picture

Nothing I can say but great article, I really enjoyed reading it.

"Because we couldn't go for three"

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I loved that guy.  When that music hit, I looked around for him.  And he wasn't hard to find.  I found him every single time.  Always one of the little fun moments that would make OSU games so awesome.

The real super fan - not in it just to get on TV, but to spread his passion around for all of us in the crowd and watching on TV to feed off of.

Class of 2010.

flying-banana's picture

Ramzy, you are seriously one of my favorite writers in sports journalism and I mean that quite seriously. You have a gift for writing emotional, poignant, and thoughtful pieces that few do. I seriously hope you continue to pursue writing further in a career, well done as always.

+9 HS
Poison nuts's picture

Selfishly, I hope he stays right here at 11W. 

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

+1 HS
Earle's picture

I miss his picture coming up for "page not found" errors anymore.

Italics are for emphasis.

+10 HS
GOOMBAY's picture

Like so many of us - me included - it was his father who introduced him to the cultural importance of fall Saturdays. You go down to campus and you get to be young again. Decades pass and your father still always sits right beside you, even when he isn't there.

Perfect.

+4 HS
Boxley's picture

Yep that one got me too. My dad introduced me to football in just this way. Been a buckeye fan ever since. Over, well lets just say many decades.

Dammit Ramzy this fine article is making my screen all blurry. .......

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

+1 HS
KevinJ's picture

Thank you Ramzy for such a great story.

+2 HS
SpielmanForPres's picture

Great article, great read. I can honestly say that in 40 years of watching Buckeye football I have never cried after a loss. My emotion is usually anger. Not the kind that is turned outward, but the "don't say a word to me for three days" kind. 

Vinsaniti's picture

Ramzy, Thank you i couldn't think of anyone who is bigger fan. A great way to begin the season reminscing in our storied history and great fans.

+1 HS
ThomasLusk's picture

Well done!!!

I wish I could go back not to change things but to do it all over again!

BuckeyeinExile's picture

Once again great article - brings back memories of watching the Neutron Man with my dad from C-Deck. For what its worth I never knew the original version of the song - TBDBITL version was the only one I ever knew of. 

As far as the 98 MSU game - my dad and I sat in C Deck until they started to literally turn out the lights in stunned silence. All I can remember from that game is wondering why they didn't keep feeding the possessed beast that was Joe Montgomery that night.

Love your stuff Ramzy!

+1 HS
Brutus1972's picture

I don't cry after a loss but if there was one I would have cried over the 98 Mich ST game would be right behind the 96 ttun game when Shawn Springs fell down leaving Tai S an unimpeded avenue to the end zone. I was stationed in Germany and they weren't showing the Buckeyes game but flashed to a highlight of an interception return for a TD right before halftime to give us a 24-9 lead. You know some smart ass woke me up at about 4am to let me know we lost. My actions after the 96 ttun game which was being aired on Armed Forces Network should not be spoken of in public or private. Let's just say that it was not something you would tell anyone who didn't already know and be scared to death your kids would ever find out. Man, my maturity level and alcohol tolerance were grossly unprepared for the Cooper years.

+2 HS
chitown buckeye's picture

My first memories of going to OSU football games are watching this man dance. Thanks for bringing back those memories!

I was a sophomore at OSU during that MSU game. He was far from the only fan crying. The fans invest a lot of emotion in this team. It may not be blood and sweat but they give us fans a chance to "get away" from everything 15 weekends a year.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

+1 HS
AeroBuckeye2001's picture

I sat in a section below Neutron Man when I was a student back in 1998. I always had a great view of him when he got up to dance. I was there during the MSU game and could see how distraught he was. As a student, I was pissed about the loss but didn't understand how he could be so upset about "just a game." Years later, I can totally understand. 

As an aside, there are a couple of band members that usually do Orlas's dance when the strike up Neutron Man during the games. They must have been puppies when Orlas died. I'm glad they know their history and continue to pay homage to the man. 

The Ohio State University Class of 2001
BS Aero & Astronautical Engineering

+1 HS
apack614's picture

Awesome article, genuinely made me happy and ready for this season to get going. RIP NM

"If we worked half as hard as our band, we'd be champions." - Woody Hayes

sb97's picture

What I liked about Orlas was that he had fun at the games and tried to make sure that the people around him had fun as well.  I can remember a number of times where he would encourage kids sitting near him to get up and dance with him.  I remember interacting with him a couple of times when I was really young.  What I most remember about it was that he was the one that initiated contact by shaking hands or asking for high fives.  In my personal experience, the neutron man treated the games like a big party and he wanted everyone around him to have fun.  That is not to say that he didnt care about the game or the team.  The crying picture clearly shows he does.

Northbrook's picture

My experience when meeting Orlas was not good but I do appreciate his passion for our Buckeyes.

Buckeyeneer's picture

Do tell.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

ChimdiCheckyaselfbeforeyawreckyaself's picture

Repeating what a lot of people have said above, but great article - one of the best I've read on this site

A little is better than nada, sometimes you want the whole enchilada

+1 HS
OscarSierraUniform's picture

Absolutely awesome piece.  Thanks for writing this.  R.I.P. Orlas "Neutron Man" King. 

See ball, get ball.

Maestro's picture

Classy

vacuuming sucks

+1 HS
RBuck's picture

Wow, it doesn't seem like Orlas has been gone that long.

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

+1 HS
Pavs38's picture

Beautifully written, and said.. it reminds me of going to games with my dad back in the 80's and 90's and seeing him there... he is a true Ohio State fan in all sense of the word unlike the two guys who like to get on TV every chance they get claiming to be Ohio State fans.

BUCKSOMIES's picture

Thanks Ramzy.  This was a great read.  I needed this.  Now I'm ready for some football.  He was indeed, a fantastic human being.

+1 HS
FunZone's picture

I asked Braxton how his knee was before halftime at Berkeley and he said, "What up, man."

+9 HS
Rob Reese's picture

I always enjoy reading about Neutron Man and the causes he pushed for.  I found it refreshing to read in this particular piece, in a day and age of YouTube celebrities,  that he didn't seek cameras or attention; those things found him.  And when they  did find him he used them to further a more noble cause -- either an OSU win, or funds for cheerleaders, etc.  

teddyballgame's picture

Like so many of us - me included - it was his father who introduced him to the cultural importance of fall Saturdays. You go down to campus and you get to be young again. Decades pass and your father still always sits right beside you, even when he isn't there.

+5 HS
Hovenaut's picture

Echoing the sentiments, well done.

I never had an opportunity to meet Orlas King, but it's easy to see that his spirit and passion for the Buckeyes carries on.
 

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

The Rill Dill's picture

I was fortunate enough to meet him and his family on several occasions.  He had tons of Buckeye memorabilia at his home, but he was equally devoted to his family.  Some of the best times I ever spent with him were at the Buckeye Hall of Fame Cafe---they used to have a pep rally on Friday night, before home games.  He had a BLAST being a cheerleader.  I still find myself looking for him in his section.  He LOVED Ohio State, and also loved LIFE.  He is part of Buckeye football history.  RIP, Orlas

+4 HS
Hovenaut's picture

Awesome.

The true OSU superfan.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

buckuar's picture

I have nothing to add except: Thanks.  A fantastic piece of writing...  Is it game time yet???

+1 HS
IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

Didn't Neutron Man's likeness used appear on the old dot-matrix displays on the scoreboard before the renovation upgraded the video displays? The man truly is still with us in spirit and in memory. I was at that 98 Sparty game and I remember the TV highlights even showed him crying post game. I wanted to hug the guy but I was too disgusted to do anything but leave in silence like everyone else. RIP, Orlas.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

+1 HS
Buckeyeneer's picture

Didn't Neutron Man's likeness used appear on the old dot-matrix displays on the scoreboard before the renovation upgraded the video displays?

Yes. I keep hoping that they will play the song and bring that out.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

+3 HS
Crumb's picture

Good article. We should all be as awesome and as classy of fans as Neutron Man.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

+1 HS
NH-IO's picture

Wonderful.  Thanks Ramzy.

+1 HS
Hockey Buck's picture

Ramzy, nailed it again. Great piece. Being first generation and having the exact same OSU upbringing made this article just a little bit more enjoyable than most of yours.  My brother and I being in our early/pre-teens were one of the first to catch his "act" before it even caught on. We used to always joke early on about how being "loaded" that one day, and deciding to dance to that song defined his legacy forever, but after reading your article I wholeheartedly concur.
 

Hockey Buck's picture

Even his name:  Orlas King was like himself, his OSU fandom and legacy, bigger than life.

+1 HS
Young_Turk's picture

Next time we have Buckeye Confessional, I'll confess I did not know crying man was Neutron Man.

+1 HS
Baroclinicity's picture

I remember him sitting behind us several rows around the 7A area (roughly) before the stadium expansion.  Always fun to watch him go!
 

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

+1 HS
Dirty419Boy's picture

Fantastic article Ramzy.  Thank you sir.

chemicalwaste's picture

I'll never forget that MSU game. It was the first time I went to an Ohio State game. I went to the Neutron Man's tailgate before the game with my dad and a couple of his friend's. We walked through the old weight room (what a change since then) probably because they all worked for Les Wexner and were therefore permitted. We parked at the McDonald's on High Street because one of the guys knew the owner or manager. I was a junior in high school and thought I was a bad ass. It was set to be awesome to catch a B1G game in the midst of a national championship run.

After the game, even the michigan state fans were quiet. It was unreal. I didn't go back for 3 years for fear that I would jinx them.

+2 HS
PG_BUCK's picture

Simply Amazing. Great Great Article.

Thanks Ramzy!

Go BUCKS!

+2 HS
Todd-Not Boeckmann's picture

I defy ANY college Football blog anywhere on the internet to find a better writer than Ramzy.  Hell, SI and Sporting News and USA Today don't have anyone better.

On the wall guarding the North Coast from all Weasel invasions.

+5 HS
BuckeyeGrownFloridaLiving's picture

Wow that gave me the chills.

+3 HS
NitroBuck's picture

I really miss the guy.  Thanks for an outstanding piece (as usual) and the rekindled memories.  RIP Orlas.

Ferio.  Tego.

+1 HS
creekman's picture

A friend of a friend purchased Orlas' tailgate bus from his widow.  Was very surreal tailgating in that bus in the lot behind Bill Davis stadium for many years.  When folks heard it was his bus....it was like a museum tour.

Dang fine man.

+1 HS
Buckeyeneer's picture

Anyone remember these? I've got mine sitting in my office.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

+7 HS
AAStagg's picture

I love Ohio State football because it fills me with hope 9 months of the year and has me walking a tightrope between fear and exhilaration the other 3.  It can make me cry and withdraw from my fellow man.  Yet it is an ironclad guarantee of magnificent Saturdays in the Fall of every year -- every single year, 60 of them for me.  When I die, if I wake up in the 'Shoe with a double script Ohio, I'll know I made it into heaven.  Great article!

Remain calm.  It's only a game.

+4 HS
Bourbon Meyer's picture

I've seen this on the O-Zone, Bucknuts, and 11W. I still don't understand why Neutron Man is beloved and Buck-I-Guy is despised. Somebody explain it to me. Both are/were middle aged Buckeye fan that, either through fancy dress or horrid dancing, sought to bring attention to themselves. Both are/were Superfans. Also, the ire seems to be directed towards Buck-I-Guy, and Buck-I-Guy only. There are other superfans out there. Big Nut. The Ohio State rodeo clown guy. How about the dude completely engulfed in a giant S&G pompom. How bout the Tresselytes a couple of years ago, or the Laurinitis "animal" people. No one was irritated by them. I actually dislike the Neutron Man because his embarrassing weeping in that '98 photograph has now been immortalized for our enemies to post around the globe when we lose.

-8 HS
Springslips's picture

The Neutron Man happened organically and was fostered on him by Buckeye Nation and he took on the role; the others planned it and forced themselves on us. All the Neutron Man did was dance in his C-deck seat, while the others seek out the camera to promote themselves. Buck-I-Guy gets most of the ire because he's the most visible, but the ire also goes to Big Nut and the others. 

too me the Neutron Man is classic fanship, a symbol of us all. The others are an embarrassment. As for crying man meme, f'em. I care not for what opposing fans think. And you shouldn't either. Most of those programs don't have enough interest to have a crying fan meme. 

+4 HS
Homey1970's picture

Wow!  Great minds do think alike!

+1 HS
Homey1970's picture

...because Neutron Man sat up in the stands and danced during a time-out or break in action in order to keep the fans engaged.  I was lucky enough to sit a few rows from him during my sophomore through senior years.  He never looked for the camera.  The three idiots of today just stick their big butts in the front row and act like monkeys for the cameras.  I consider the "Tresselytes" and "Animal" types to be passing fads.  I just wish the other three would go away. 

+4 HS
The Rill Dill's picture

Some people just don't 'get it'.

Springslips's picture

Ramzy, you are the best writer--not only of Ohio State--but all of sports. I don't say that lightly as I am often critical of the cliche ridden mound of crap many in sports publish. But yours borders on literature. You are always insightful, profound; your prose is beautiful and you know how to tug at the heart strings. If SI or ESPN magazine had any brains, they'd come to you with a huge check. If you made a book of your best Buckeye essays I'd abandon sex with Jessica Alba to go buy it. 

+2 HS
Brutus1972's picture

I was right there with you and agreed 100% on everything that you wrote.........right up until you were about to pass up sex with Jessica Alba to go buy a book. Ramzy Rocks!

BuckeyeLurker0509's picture

THIS WAS BEAUTIFUL.

wow.

TURD_BUCKET's picture

One of a kind

“Being average means you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.”

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Loved Neutron Man!  Great Buckeye who will always be a part of the Ohio State football history. 

Go Bucks!!

40 Degrees North's picture

In 2004, I was starting my senior year at Ohio State. About a month before Neutron Man died, I was attending a Buckeye/political event in Grove City that was hosted by the U.S. Representative who covered the western half of Franklin County at the time, Deborah Pryce. Two notable former Buckeyes, Mike Lanese and Greg Frey, were at the event. There were more former Buckeyes there, but those were two I remember. There were many state and local politicos there, given it was an election year and Deborah Pryce was one of the most powerful politicos in central Ohio at the time. 

Nevertheless, the star of the event wasn't Deborah Pryce, one of the state or local politicos, or one of the former Buckeyes. It was the Neutron Man. The crowd at the event absolutely loved it! You could tell Neutron Man loved the people and the people loved him back, whether it was in that banquet hall in Grove City or at Ohio Stadium. Yet, he didn't try to make himself the star that night. In a couple of that night's big moments, which included TV cameras present, he moved away from the cameras to make sure to let Deborah Pryce and the former Buckeye players get the publicity. 

I was able to say hello and talk with him for a moment that night. Just a very nice guy. He had a smile all night! Then, a month later or so, I heard on the news that he was gone. 

As I look back, I wish I got a picture with him that night, but I will always have the memories of seeing him bring joy to so many that evening.

+1 HS
UpIrons's picture

I moved to Columbus in '91 and attended my first OSU game that year with my Dad. Glad I got a chance to experience the Neutron man in person and it means even more after reading this. Thanks for a great tribute to an amazing person!

+1 HS
TheVictoryBell45's picture

Here's to making The Shoe the loudest stadium in the history of football for the Virginia Tech game and every game after that! 

BrutusBuckey3's picture

The Horseshoe is a better setting than the Rose Bowl. Just saying...

BrewstersMillions's picture

I know its not the point of this piece-which per the usual is a great one-but I love this line more than most things Ramzy has ever said..

"He now shows up unwillingly after every loss, however rare those may be.".

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

+1 HS
New alum's picture

Great article. Sounds like a terrific guy. What a legacy. Thank you for this write-up.

+1 HS
SoCalBuck26's picture

One of the nicest guys I've ever met.  I need to look for the pictures I have with him, he was always so grateful to take a picture with a fan, and asked for nothing in return.  He had passion and kindness and thats what made him memorable to me.  Great write up!!!!

+2 HS
New alum's picture

Loved the part about the role he felt the band, cheerleaders, and fans play in performance of the team. Every mediocre to poor athlete who loves sports (of which I am one) prays this is so out of a desire to matter. This is also, I think, part of why I love college football, but, try as I might, have trouble caring about the outcome of an NFL game.

+1 HS
Poison nuts's picture

After reading that - I'm the crying man.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

+2 HS
Jonnferrell's picture

A true superfan and a true super write-up! I remember well my first trip to the festering cesspool that I affectionately call "The Big Outhouse."  During the great darkness of Cooper it was that I arrived at the threshold of the blue and yellow minor league baseball park almost buried in the ground.  I say "almost" with disappointment as it should have been covered with dirt just as a cat hides its smelly, unsightly fecal offering.  I was naively surprised at the lack of any type of edifice with a walkway and legible directions in anything resembling a written language--obviously it was beyond the primitive natives of the inhabitants of the region.  I was lost like Dr. Livingston in the god forsaken wilderness when, shining like a paladin of Scarlet and Grey, appeared the Neutron Man.  I exclaimed with glee to my travelling companion, "Look!  There's the Neutron Man!  He will know the way!"  I quickly apprached to him, he smiled and greeted us as comrades and family and steered us in the right direction.  Rest well, Orlas King, rest well!

"I'm still hungry." --Brady Hoke

ScarletGray43157's picture

Ramzy:

You have a gift as a writer.  As an Ohio State fan, it is a blessing to have you on 11W writing about all things OSU and those associated with OSU.  This article is Pulitzer-Grade.  Thanks.

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

+1 HS
Mark's picture

Great read. 

Besides my freshman season in Block-O (it the closed end of the stadium back then, '90-95), I did not get to watch him as my season tickets were in the 5th row C-Deck.  Either right above him or a section or two away...I can't remember. 

Speaking of weeping openly at the games...I still shed a tear every time I'm there when the festivities begin (usually during the ramp entrance).  It always makes me reminisce of my college days.  And this year, I get to finally take my 2 boys (7 & 3 years old) to their first game vs. Kent St.  I'm sure a tear will be shed on that day.

Carson's picture

It was back in the late '90s, only a few seasons after Matt Finkes/Mike Vrabel/Luke Fickell graduated, that my dad and I (aged btwn 7-9) were throwing the football in the parking lot next to the ROTC Building.

Neutron Man approached us unsolicited and started chatting with us, asking me about the Buckeyes, who my favorite players were*, and wanted to take a picture with us.

A memory I'll cherish forever.

Thank you, Orlas.

* Dee Miller and Gary Berry

+1 HS
Buckeyeneer's picture

I posted this elsewhere but Ramzy inspired me so here is my tribute.

Neutron

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

+1 HS
jralvarez's picture

Wow.  Just wow Ramz...    I'm laughing, crying, smiling, it was better than Catz!

Buckeyejohnny

Citrus's picture

This article inspired me to look up other things about Orlas and I found this

http://vimeo.com/82688736

BTW I've had a difficult time posting videos lately.

+1 HS
Redjim91's picture

Very nice read.  Thanks.

JHerb42's picture

Fantastic article!  Can't wait to start bringing my son to games.

+1 HS
kayzee's picture

Ah, that 1998 Michigan State game.  I had 2 season tickets that year.  I invited this guy I was dating to that MSU vs OSU game. We met up at the raucous 7 Eleven on Lane Ave.  He was wearing an OSU tee, but it was covered by a dark green jacket.  I begged, pleaded and warned him to take the jacket off.  He wore it the entire game.  When it was over, we were over.  And I slapped him because it was his fault.