2008-08-28 / Editorial Page

Dear Hearts and Gentle People

It's not even September and we're up to our chinstraps in football again. This is Lincolnton, after all.

You know, some people around here think football is a matter of life and death, but let me assure you, it's more serious than that.

Listen, I raised two boys and finished raising a husband, all three who played for the Red Devils, as did my father, father-in-law, and countless nephews and cousins, so I know and accept the importance of the football tradition in Lincoln County.

My television has only two stations: Fox Business and ESPN. I could outfit the Pittsburgh Steelers with shoulder pads and jockey straps that have accumulated at our house over the years. I know football.

And, believe it or not, I like football. We've tried to teach our sons that football (along with other sports, of course) teaches you life lessons like determination, self-discipline, courage, good sportsmanship, patience, and a host of other virtues.

A good many of those virtues, if kids are lucky, are modeled by a man, an ordinary man, who practices what he preaches and knows that the high school football field is only a stepping stone in the long, sometimes tough, walk of "life."

That man is the coach.

Since one of my sons coached football at a private school for a while, I oftentimes stumble across some choice written material passed around from coach to coach. I found such a piece this week and I think it's worth sharing.

It's entitled "Monday Morning Football" and includes quotes from some famous and not-so-famous coaches and a few players. I think you'll get a kick out of them. If football's not your thing, go pick up the Chronicle and work the crossword instead. You won't hurt my feelings one bit. Here goes:

"At Georgia Southern, we don't cheat. That costs money and we don't have any." (Erk Russell/Georgia Southern)

"After you retire, there's only one big event left…and I ain't ready for that." (Bobby Bowden/Florida State)

"When you win, nothing hurts." (Joe Namath/Alabama)

"Motivation is simple. You eliminate those who are not motivated." (Lou Holtz/Arkansas)

"The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it." (Lou Holtz/ Arkansas)

"If you want to walk the heavenly streets of gold, you gotta know the password, 'Roll, tide, roll!'" (Bear Bryant/Alabama)

"If my mother put on a helmet and shoulder pads and a uniform that wasn't the same as the one I was wearing, I'd run over her if she was in my way. And I love my mother." (Bo Jackson)

"Winning is not a sometime thing: it's an all the time thing. You don't win once in a while; you don't do the right thing once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing." (Vince Lombardi/Green Bay Packers)

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the h*ll kicked out of you." (Woody Hayes/Ohio State)

"I don't expect to win enough games to be put on NCAA probation. I just want to win enough to warrant an investigation." (Bob Devaney/Nebraska)

"In Alabama, an atheist is someone who doesn't believe in Bear Bryant." (Wally Butts/Georgia)

"I remember in Pittsburgh we had no players and the ones we did have wanted to stay at the hotel by the fire. I was ticked because that's where I wanted to stand." (John McKay/ Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach, on the Bucs 42-0 loss to Pittsburgh on a very cold day.)

"You can learn more character on the two-yard line than anywhere else in life." (Paul Dietzel/LSU)

"It's kind of hard to rally around a math class." (Bear Bryant/Alabama)

"I make my practices real hard because if a player is a quitter, I want him to quit in practice, not in a game." (Bear Bryant/Alabama)

"There's one sure way to keep us from scoring…give us the ball near the goal line." (Matty Bell/SMU)

"I never graduated from Iowa, but I was only there for two terms - Truman's and Eisenhower's." (Alex Karras/Iowa)

"My advice to defensive players: Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in a bad humor." (Bowden Wyatt/Tennessee)

"If a contest had 97 prizes, the 98th would be a trip to Green Bay." (John McKay/ Tampa Bay, on his disdain for the Packers)

"I could have been a Rhodes Scholar, except for my grades." (Duffy Daugherty/Michigan State)

"Always remember…Goliath was a 40 point favorite over David." (Shug Jordan/Auburn)

"I asked Darrell Royal, the coach of the Texas Longhorns, why he didn't recruit me and he said: 'Well, Walt, we took a look at you and you weren't any good.'" (Walt Garrison/ Oklahoma State)

"Son, you've got a good engine, but your hands aren't on the steering wheel." (Bobby Bowden/Florida State)

"They whipped us like a tied up goat." (Spike Dykes/Texas Tech)

"If lessons are learned in defeat, our team is getting a great education." (Murray Warmath/Minnesota)

"It's shattering when player loses interest in camp. When you lose your desire to stand around and eat steaks, you lose everything." (John McKay/ Tampa Bay, on training camp)

"It isn't necessary to see a good tackle. You can hear it." (Knute Rockne/Notre Dame)

"We didn't tackle well today but we made up for it by not blocking." (John McKay/USC)

"Three things can happen when you throw the ball, and two of them are bad." (Darrell Royal/University of Texas)

"I've found that prayers work best when you have big players." (Knute Rockne/Notre Dame)

"Gentlemen, it is better to have died a small boy than to fumble the football." (John Heisman)

"A…gain!" (Larry Campbell/Lincoln County) And finally, two players were fighting with one another on the practice field during scrimmage when the coach says to one of them:

"Look, I would let you go behind the gym and settle this, but chances are, if he's whipping your butt out here on the field, he'll probably whip your butt behind the gym." (Larry Campbell/Lincoln County)

Now that's funny. I don't care who you are. See you at the game, dear hearts.

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