Trevor Wikre had about 45 minutes to decide. Would it be football or his finger?
His pinkie never stood a chance.
``There wasn't too much thought to it,'' Wikre said. ``It was a simple decision.''
That's because football is in his blood. The finger was merely attached to his right hand.
He could have kept it and probably never played again. But the game that has been so much of his life since the fourth grade meant more.
Doctors told him they could operate and, with luck, he would regain some use of the finger in four or five months.
He told them to cut it off.
``There are worse things in the world,'' Wikre said. ``A pinkie is not that bad in my mind.''
Wikre was back in his usual spot on the offensive line Thursday night, playing every snap when Mesa State College took on rival Western State College in front of 3,808 fans at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction, Colo. Two weeks after severely fracturing his finger in practice, his only concession to the now missing digit was a soft cast covering his right hand.
win 29-19 as Wikre, a preseason all-conference pick, adjusted to having to protect his quarterback without being able to use his hands the way he did before.
``He did a good job,'' coach Joe Ramunno said. ``I told him that his feet have to get a lot better because you use your hands so much in today's game and he wasn't able to do that.''
Lest you think that Ramunno is some kind of overbearing coach who pushed his senior lineman into playing with no worry about his missing finger, consider this:
Ramunno is missing a pinkie, too. Sliced it off 29 years ago in high school shop class, then told his doctors not to worry about trying to reattach it.
Ten days later he was playing in a football game for Steamboat Springs High.
Lose a finger, miss a week. And you thought Tony Romo was tough?
``I understand that some people see it totally differently than I did or Trevor did,'' Ramunno said. ``But if they were around him and understand what we both were doing I think they would see. Football is that kind of a game.''
It's a game that the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Wikre knows will likely be over for him after the three remaining games of the season and possibly the Division II playoffs. There's not much call by NFL teams for relatively undersized linemen from even more undersized schools even when they have all their body parts.
s the camaraderie, miss everything about being together with others on a team.
But he couldn't stand missing the final games of his career.
``It's going to be tough to know you're done and everything is over,'' Wikre said. ``That's always been tough.''
Had Wikre gone the traditional route and had surgery to repair a finger he fractured so badly the bone broke through the skin, his college career would have been over and there would be no guarantee the finger would ever heal properly. Instead, he missed just one game against Colorado School of Mines. His team is now 6-2.
Wikre made his decision to amputate so quickly that he never discussed it with his coach. By the time Ramunno got to the hospital, Wikre was coming out of surgery.
``This has brought up all kind of memories and I've been joking with Trevor about it,'' Ramunno said. ``I haven't missed my finger at all. I can still grip things, still shovel snow. Typing is a little difficult, but I told him mine is tougher because it's my left hand and that's the ``a'' key. He's got the ``p'' key, which you don't use as much.''
Wikre understands that some people may think he's been hit one too many times on the head while on the offensive line. He's knows there are those who think having a finger, no matter where it's located, beats playing a few football games.
Those who have played the game will understand, he says.
ntly, he is at peace with himself.
``There's nothing I would take back or regret,'' Wikre said. ``It's all been good. This was the best thing for me that I could have done.''
----
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlbergap.org

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