Sunday, September 16, 2012
But beyond that, I was also amazed. This young man had drawn so much attention, and was being courted by huge college football programs across the nation. Add to that, professional baseball teams tried to entice him with massive amounts of money the likes of which most of us have never dreamed. Most people finding themselves at the center of this level of adoration tend to have difficulty keeping their egos in check. Not Anthony. Throughout the entire process he kept his head on straight, maintaining a quiet, respectful, humble dignity. He made it clear that he wanted to go to college and get an education. How many people, young or old, would have had the integrity to make that same decision?
Fast forward to Saturday, September 15th. Anthony, at age eighteen, had been chosen to start for the first home game of the 2012-13 season. The stands were almost completely filled thanks in part to General Hammond's "Fill To The Top" campaign. The game was broadcast on national television. No pressure there, right? Anthony scored on the opening drive and the fans rejoiced. Unfortunately, as often happens in football and in any other sport, the game soon turned, and ultimately didn't go as we hoped. This was disappointing, yes. We were all disappointed, probably none of us more so than Anthony himself.
But, what was inexcusable was the behavior of the Golden Eagle fans booing in the stands as Anthony entered the field. Many of those fans have tried to justify their behavior, claiming they were booing the coaching, not the player. Whatever. This post isn't a discussion of coaching decisions, but the coaches weren't out on that field trying to concentrate on running plays over the sound of their own fans booing. No, that was a true freshman named Anthony Alford who was on the field on the instruction of his coaches, giving everything he had to give.
Anthony Alford is a young man of integrity, a wonderful role model for today's youth. He makes clear distinctions between what's important in life and what's fleeting, obviously unlike a lot of adults. He took a giant leap of faith in coming to play football for Southern Miss. I hope he doesn't regret it. Thousands of Southern Miss fans let him down yesterday. Shame on them.