In the SEC football is king.
We love it, crave it. Nurture it's every whim, crave its every move and watch with pounding hearts, gritted teeth and clenched fists for the next big play. That moment of explosion where something spectacular occurs that was completely random, unexpected and takes our breath away.
Sometimes its good. Like a 90 yard interception run from a defense who at the beginning of the season had left many scratching their heads asking just who was running the show.
Sometimes it isn't.
This, unfortunately, is about the latter.
If your looking for a feel good post about Tennessee football, this article isn't for you.Because it's not about Tennessee football.
It's about a 19 year old kid who was born while I sat in a desert in the Persian Gulf.
It's about a young man who was living his dream and inexplicably, without rhyme or reason had that dream yanked from under his feet yesterday around noon.
For those just catching up, I'm speaking of #88 for the Arkansas Razorbacks, Garrett Uekman. A Tight End, who hails from the states own Little Rock. A young man who went to Catholic High School and become the number five prospect in the state. A young man who was doing what he loved, and on Saturday night with little fan fare or celebration assisted his team in defeating Mississippi State 44 to 17.
As fans often we forget the work these young men put in to their craft. The days, weeks, months even years spent abusing their bodies, pounding in to other finely honed physical specimens who train to send a man to his oblivion as Hurricane Carter once wrote.
We forget about the families behind these individuals, the sacrifice they make to achieve these goals. We prove how forgetful we are with our actions. Death treats. Social Media slamming. Phone calls in the night. We belittle them, berate them, curse the day they were born and rail at the heavens for their lack of success or ability.
Yet they still set foot on the field, a field many of us have never and will never touch. They excelled enough to make it to that sideline, to that bench even if they never play a down.
The announcements began locally around lunch, rumors breathlessly whispered in hallways on the Internet. A team meeting to come at 13:30 hours local time. No word on who, or position, how or why. By 14:00 we had answers to the formers two questions but still not the latter two. We may never know the why. Such is the way these things happen.
By 15:00 however the analysts had already begun the spin.
"How will this play for Arkansas versus LSU?"
The body not yet cold, the fan base had already moved on in a microwave burrito moment to the end of the book, the novel unfinished in between.
Razorback nation, those faithful who just two weeks ago a band of us gathered with. Tennessee and Arkansas faithful side by side singing song, eating and trash talking in affable fashion. In less time than that they had one of their own taken from them and the media had already begun it's great wheels turning of stories of empowerment, overcoming adversity and heartbreak.
Maybe, in some ways. This is a Tennessee post. We have had a lousy year. We have struggled with injuries, with pain, with failure. We have flirted with danger, and mourned losses of games we felt we could contend. We have seen former players fall to the way side.
But we have not lost one of our own, not directly.
How much more horrid is what they experienced versus that which we have worked against? A man struck down in his prime, his life barely beginning, who worked, sweat-ed beside them, trained beside them , gone in a instant.
At what point do we cease becoming fans, and become mere statistical beasts, seeing the game not made up of young men like ourselves or like we once were contending to be something more; but rather of two living breathing beasts locked in gladiatorial combat, for blood, death and riches?
Are you not entertained?
Razorback nation must draw its circle round. In a few days they will play the number one team in the nation, after experiencing what can only be called a travesty by any definition of the word.
As fellow fans of the SEC I ask we draw around them.We are family, the best of the best, aye? Despite our rivalries, heraldries, pains, arguments, and fights. There are few other worthy opponents, fewer still worthy of respect even if begrudged.
A moment of silence if you will, for those who strive to play the game, to give us our Saturdays: our joy, our jubilation, our sorrow. Our humiliation.
Our tears are all thats asked, for just a single moment.
We can spend the rest of the week speaking of stats, adversity and all of those things that make Cinderella stories in sports wonderful.
But for the moment, let us grieve.
Now is our Remebersday: To Garret Uekman who makes his way to Fiddlers Green to show them how to play third down in a clutch. To Larry Munson who will shout from the sidelines, words of motivation. For the warriors whom have gone on.
Von Goethe said that Death is a co-mingling of eternity with time; in the death of a good man, eternity is seen looking through time.