August 4, 2014 Updated: August 4, 2014 at 8:09 pm
Broam Hart was recently watching one of those alien attack movies. You know the plot: A band of evil intruders from the far reaches of the universe invade our world, hoping to obliterate every last one of us.
The aliens never succeed in complete obliteration. The death of all humans would be too depressing and stand in the way of profitable sequels.
Hart, an Air Force running back, watched carnage and terror, and all this sorrow on the screen started him thinking back to a horror movie from his recent past:
The 2013 Falcons football season.
Air Force played 12 games and lost 10. They surrendered 480 points, or an average of 40 per game. They lost by more than 30 points four times. They endured terror and sorrow.
"We can never let it happen again," Hart said. "Never again. You watch alien movies and you see billboards and they say, 'Never again!' It's like an alien attack. You can't let it happen again. When I was watching that movie, I thought about it.
"You can't ever let that 2-10 season happen again."
Not if you can help it, anyway.
Hart and his teammates decline to run away from last season. They refuse to offer excuses. These survivors endured the worst football season in Air Force history.
They are earnestly striving to avoid a sequel.
The Falcons march into the 2014 season without the onus of expectation. The forecast is unanimously gloomy. Outsiders expect the Falcons to stumble to another losing season.
"Everyone remembers 2-10," quarterback Kale Pearson said. "We've got to prove everybody wrong."
Silencing the doubters will require good health, near-perfect execution on offense, a freshly violent attitude on defense and a hunger sorely lacking in 2013.
The veteran Falcons police film sessions and weightlifting and practices in the sunshine as they search for players giving less than everything.
When they find a slacking teammate, they offer a simple message:
They say, "2-10." Two wins, 10 losses. No other words are needed.
Safety Christian Spears, his face grim, offered an interpretation of what "2-10" means.
"This is how we were practicing last year and look what happened," he said. "Do the same things, get the same results."
I realize the Falcons look pitiful on paper, but angry, focused teams sometimes find the mental might to set fire to the paper.
When coach Troy Calhoun arrived prior the 2007 season, the Falcons had stumbled to 26 losses in 41 games. These Falcons were similar to the current edition of the team. The 2007 Falcons were filled with returning players stinging from the misery of losing.
In 2007, Calhoun and those hungry, humiliated players awoke a program. The Falcons won nine games and came achingly close to winning 11.
The fuel is there for another revival. Spears stood on the field during the final minutes of the catastrophe that ended a string of catastrophes. Colorado State trashed Air Force, 58-13 to end the 2013 season.
"A bad and sickening feeling," he said of the ruinous trip to Fort Collins, "but we spit that out by now."
Hart will long remember his feelings as the season ended.
"I was ashamed, embarrassed," he said.
Spears and Hart battle, every day, to place the shame of 2013 in the past.
When a Falcon fumbles in practice, he can expect to hear "2-10" as he scrambles to pick up the bouncing ball. When a Falcon relaxes in the weight room, he can expect a quick "2-10" from a disappointed teammate.
Hart, usually one of those smiling types, frowned as he thought back to the horror movie that was 2013.
"Never again," he said in a tone that makes you want to believe him.