Originally published November 2013
Ron Higgins had never left a press box during a football game in his 20 years of reporting. This time, though, he knew he had no choice.
Craig Zeigler, a tight end for Ole Miss, lay on the football field, his leg broken in two spots and twisted in a grotesque position after being leg-whipped by a Vanderbilt player. Teammate Eli Manning said later he could not look at his friend.
Zeigler, Higgins knew, was a beloved teammate who had worked through numerous injuries to earn his starting spot. So after the senior was carted from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Higgins walked out of the press box, headed to Baptist Hospital North Mississippi, spoke with Zeigler and his father before the surgery, and wrote a column that prompted Vanderbilt’s chancellor to call in praise and the Football Writers Association of America to award first place in a national competition.
“Think outside the box,” Higgins told students at the College Media Advisers national journalism conference in New Orleans. “Think differently. Columns are not just about good writing.”