ATLANTA, GA – Taking his cue from a long precedent of movies, comic books, science fiction novels and other forms of popular media, Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson traveled back in time on Thursday in order to prevent former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865.
Johnson, 21, hoped to rewrite American history for the better, particularly in the area of racial equality. Along the way the junior pass catcher – considered by many NFL experts as a top ten prospect in the upcoming April draft – also hoped to remove the Georgia Institute of Technology from the space-time continuum, thereby avoiding three seasons of futility with the Yellow Jackets during the first half of the twenty-first century.
“I’ve always admired Lincoln,” Johnson said during Thursday’s press conference prior to his temporal voyage. “He was a great man, a great leader in a time of desperate need. That he should die a scant six months after his re-election always struck me as one of history’s crueler jokes.”
Continued Johnson: “Not as cruel a joke as [Georgia Tech quarterback] Reggie Ball ‘throwing’ to me, though.”
“Make sure you put ‘throwing’ in quotes,” he added.
Johnson took advantage of recent breakthroughs in the areas of transversable wormholes – a form of warped space-time compatible with the Einstein field equations – as well as the science of poorly throwing a football into the air so he could grab it, two subjects the pass catcher is well versed in.
According to the All-America wide receiver, time travel to the past is made possible by accelerating one end of a wormhole to nearly the speed of light and then bringing it back to the point of origin, producing what Johnson called “time dilation”.
“I knew that would work in theory. What really stumped me was finding matter with enough negative energy to begin the process. Well, it turns out we can churn out enough of that material by having ‘someone’,” Johnson said, emphasizing the last with pantomimed quotes, “throwing horribly aimed, wobbly fades and hoping I would catch it despite double, triple, even quadruple coverage.”
“The resulting catch creates a quantum irregularity, which I also have to catch. Luckily no one in a Georgia Tech uniform is throwing that quark to me.”
Johnson (#21) demonstrates the method for unbalanced wormhole promulgation.
Despite being described as a rare combination of size, speed, athleticism and temporal dissonance, the 2006 Biletnikoff winner seemed like an improbable choice to become the first human being to travel backwards in time. Rodney Walker, Johnson’s prep school coach at Sandy Creek High in Georgia, thinks otherwise.
“I’m not at all surprised [with Johnson's time travel],” Walker said. “Calvin has always been a warrior. He’s one of the hardest working guys you’ll ever meet. You go in to the weight room at five in the morning and that’s where you’ll find him. Maybe he’s lifting weights, maybe he’s working on wormhole stabilization. That’s the kind of kid he is.”
“Besides,” Walker continued, “when you’re motivated enough you can do anything, including altering the flow of time itself. Believe you me: being stuck with [Georgia Tech head coach] Chan Gailey and Reggie Ball for three years is motivation enough.”
“Plus that whole Lincoln thing, sure,” Walker added when asked about America’s sixteenth president.
Johnson’s efforts at altering the past would ultimately be in vain, though.
Just a few seconds after he successfully opened a portal to the past, the 6’5″ 235-lbs. receiver returned with a flash of light, looking dusty and injured in several places. After requesting bread and “strong drink” Johnson lamented that “time’s arrow cannot be diverted”, shaking his head in response to inquiries about the fates of Lincoln and Georgia Tech: “One died and one lived. Let’s just say that the guy in the stovepipe hat didn’t fare well.”
Hastily scribbled notes found in the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year’s pockets helped reveal a disjointed story marked by tragedy, frustration and inspiring but ultimately futile heroism.
“Fuck the movies,” a visibly exhausted Johnson said.
“They make it seem so easy to go back in time to save Sarah Connor or whatever, but the reality is that post-Civil War America includes a lot of crazy white dudes with ideas about what a black man ought to be doing, and that doesn’t include trying to get into the Presidential balcony at Ford’s Theater. I’m trying to save Abraham Lincoln and they’re trying to club me. Let me tell you something, man: Skynet is winning.”
Johnson was equally dismayed with his attempts at getting Nathaniel Edwin Harris – a lawyer and politician who was a key figure in the creation of Georgia Tech – to take up painting. The wide receiver explained his failure only by noting that Harris, an alumnus of rival University of Georgia and 19 years old at the time of Lincoln’s death, was “an inbred asshole.”
When asked why he didn’t try to locate the ancestors of Gailey and Ball in an effort to disrupt their bloodlines, Johnson lashed out at the reporters present.
“You think it’s that easy? You try getting stretched to nearly infinite limits through what can only be described as a giant death vacuum. Then think about finding yourself in the middle of a country still reeling from a bloody war that pit brother against brother, father against son. And then deal with the fact that you forgot to take your Google notes along with you,” Johnson said.
“News flash: they don’t have Google in 1865. It was like getting on the road and driving for an hour before realizing you left the Mapquest directions on the dinner table. I printed up pages and pages of family trees, man. I even used Hi-Liter. As Foucault said, ‘life fucking blows sometimes’.”
After several close calls and confrontations, Johnson managed to trick an old tobacco farmer from Macon, Georgia into clumsily throwing a large potato at him, triggering the time travel sequence. Johnson did not account for the proximity of the farmer, though, and both were sucked into the temporal vortex. The resultant discrepancy in mass hurled the two into 2003. After further adventures Johnson finally managed to return to the present – but without the farmer.
“Yeah, I left him back in 2003. His name’s Buford. He lost his left arm at [the Battle of] Chancellorsville, and he was missing toes, teeth and half an ear. I’m pretty sure one of his eyes was fake, too. He won the [Georgia Tech] starting QB job pretty easily,” Johnson said.
Johnson continued: “If there’s one thing I learned from all this, it’s that history cannot be changed. Racial equality is not something I can make happen by saving one man’s life no matter how important he was. I will always honor Lincoln even if his bodyguards were dicks, but it’s time to think about changing the now.”
“As for Buford, turns out he had a slightly better completion percentage than Reggie. He wasn’t much of a runner, though. Not that it mattered since he was declared academically ineligible for our bowl game.”
“Buford, that is,” Johnson added.