"I Was Blessed:" The Goat Story
"I was blessed," Caps Superfan Goat told me Monday night. "Some people were born rich. Some people were born good looking. Me, I was born loud."
This has TV movie written all over it, right?
So Goat is actually William Stilwell. He does graphic design for a gaming company in Maryland; Games Workshop, it's called. And, for movie purposes, there will be plenty of shots to set up his adult loudness and fame. This is what I'm thinking.
Scene One: It's 1974. The Capitals are born. So is a young boy named William. The first shot is of a young boy, screaming. The nurses wince.
(Whether or not that last sentence actually happened, I can't say, but it's great for the movie.)
Scene Two: It's 1982. A young William turns on the television. The Caps are playing the Devils on channel 20. "That looks entertaining," William thinks. He doesn't understand all the rules--he thinks minor penalties last two hours instead of two minutes, for example--but soon, he's making construction paper signs in his basement to support the team. Man, I miss construction paper. And paste.
Scene Three: It's 1985. William and friends go to the Cap Center to see the Caps play the Rangers. The Caps win, 6-3.
"Oh my God, this is the best thing ever," William says to his dad.
Scene Four: A slightly older William is watching NFL football with his father. The Redskins, naturally. The men yell at the screen. Loudly. Like, really, really loudly. Like, a neighbor sits on her porch every week and follows the progress of the games by listening to the Goats, father and son, as they yell. Their screaming is her play-by-play. (Insert ESPN joke here.)
"She never turned on her TV," remembers Goat's sister, Elenora. "She could tell what was happening by their yelling."
And once William's voice breaks, father and son are equal in volume. Equally loud.
Scene Five: The nickname is born. William is 16. His friends call him Goat. It drives him crazy. He doesn't eat tin cans. He doesn't claim to be the Greatest of All Time. There are no other acronyms. He doesn't have any disturbed predilections toward devious activities. It's got nothing to do with facial hair. He's just Goat. After three or four months, he relents. Fine, he says. He'll be Goat.
Scene Six: Goat matures. He attends as many games at the Cap Center as he can. And he begins to realize his powers. Like the one time in the mid-90s when Gord Broseker, "the best NHL official ever," is working a Caps game. Goat notices that one of the nets has come off its moorings as the action flows in the other direction.
"Gooooooord, FIX THE NET!!!!!!" Goat yells.
Gord skates backwards and fixes the net.
"Oh my God, I think he heard me," Goat says.
Scene Seven: (Taking a few creative liberties with the timeline here.) Careful viewers remember from Scene One that both Goat and the Caps were born in '74. Well, one day Goat ventures to a Capitals equipment sale. It's the end of the season, and the Caps offer their fans official gear. The oddly named Brantt Myhres spent some time with the Caps on this particular year. Five games, the record books show. His contribution to Washington Sports History? Twenty-nine penalty minutes, and a nickname.
See, the team had dozens of used sticks with the number "74," since that was Myhres's short-lived number. Goat figures it was fate. On message boards, he becomes Goat74. He wears a "Goat" jersey to virtually every Caps game, and on the back it says "Goat" and the number 74.
Scene Eight: The Caps move downtown. Goat follows. He becomes louder. His legions grow. "I can be really loud and obnoxious, and people will come down and pat me on the back," he realizes. "I can become a spectacle."
And so he does. Any inhibitions break down, and he unleashes the loudest voice and stompiest stomp on F Street. Everyone in the arena can hear him. His friends watching on TV or listening on the radio can hear him, too. He joins forces with the Horn Guy up in the rafters to form one of the most potent one-two combos in the Washington sports landscape, if potency is measured by ear damage.
In the late '90s Goat and his sister get a 19-game plan. In 2000, they sign up for the full package. They become fixtures in section 105. Some fans in front of them occasionally put their fingers in their ears or move seats. Elenora (I swear on my life) eventually begins to struggle with hearing certain pitches in her left ear (the side on which Goat sits), and she begins wearing an ear plug in her left ear.
"For safety's sake," she says. "Might as well."
But almost everyone (except Kim's wife, see below) loves Goat, his enthusiasm and his noise, and fans begin stopping him and thanking him after games. And when the team wants to feature fans on its Jumbotron in the year after the lockout, there's really no doubt whom to choose: Horn Guy and Goat.
Scene Nine: It's the present. Monday night. Post-game. Goat's already been stopped twice on the concourse by appreciative fans. One of his friends, Jason "High School" Foley, has already texted Goat to tell him that he heard him on TV. Now Goat and some new friends are hanging out in the concourse with a blogger and some Caps execs. The Caps execs are fawning all over Goat, as well they should. They ask about his vocal cords.
"Bud Light doesn't help?" one wonders.
"You know what, I don't drink before or during games," Goat says.
"Do you lose your voice?" the blogger wonders.
"For the first hour or so the next morning, but by lunchtime I'm good," Goat says. "Water and tea."
"Horn Man and Goat, you guys are the top two fans, right?" a senior vice president asks.
"Not to be immodest, but yeah," Goat admits.
"I told Duff, we'll have to have a contest at some point," says D.C. United Superfan Banshee Jay, a prodigious screamer himself, who admires Goat's talent. "Fantastic volume and a voice that resonates," he says.
"It's an amazing talent," Elenora agrees. "I give a lot of the credit to genetics."
"If you want an ambassador, I'm game," Goat volunteers to the execs. "I want more people at the games."
"Hey, Goat, thank you," one of the Caps' senior vice presidents says. "I sit at the other end of the rink, and I can hear you all the way down there."
Finally, an hour after the game ends, after the VP's have heard Goat's story and gotten his feedback on the team and on its marketing ventures, also also the feedback of the D.C. United fans and season ticket holder Peggy, and after the DCU fans and the blogger have cackled over the Crosby pics in the arena urinals, the party breaks up. Everyone walks away. Goat has one more line. He's used it before. Probably, he'll use it again.
"I was blessed," Goat says. "Some people were born rich. Some people were born good looking. Me, I was born loud."
Seriously, someone pay me right now for the movie rights.
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