An open letter to the ND football team
Letter to the Editor | Friday, September 26, 2008
By now just about everyone has heard that two of your teammates were arrested for underage drinking this past weekend.
I’m not angry because they were caught. I’m disappointed because they were drinking.
Now I’m not saying this because I expect you to be the face of our University. I’m not saying this because I think it’s morally reprehensible for an underage person to drink. I’m saying this because I don’t think that this shows a commitment to excellence.
I’m issuing a challenge because I think you are guys are good. Really legitimately good. I see Floyd and Tate wreaking havoc on cornerbacks, and Jimmy making some absolutely perfect throws now and then. I see a defense that plays with energy, makes solid strong tackles and creates big plays.
But here’s the challenge: At the end of the day, this is the University of Notre Dame. And like it or not (and I think that athletes of your caliber look to these kind of challenges to get amped) we want a national championship here.
Sure we’d like a winning record, we’d like to beat Michigan, we’d like to win a bowl game. But The Shirt’s back shows the picture of a player wearing a No. 12 jersey. That’s what we’re about. And that’s a big part of why you came.
So here is why I am disappointed: Some of you drink. This is a fact. I’ve been to parties where you are nursing down your solo cup, and I’ve seen you at Recker’s at 2:15 as a living tribute to Dionysus and Bacchus. My problem is that unfortunately for all of us, our bodies don’t like alcohol. Our minds love it, but the next day if we aren’t physically sick, we are fatigued and irritable. If I am erroneous on any of these counts I would love to be corrected.
I know you guys want to win every single game. I can’t imagine the physical torment you endure during your practices and workouts. But I’m saying that’s not enough. I’m saying, you gotta want it.
And I know every one of you says you want it. And I know every one of you plays like you want it. I want to see your off-field selves to live like you want it. Your physical condition is integral to how you do on the field, and if you want to win a national championship you can’t expect your 95 percent to best someone’s 100 percent.
It comes down to a commitment to excellence. A 100 percent commitment. Once you get through Bowl Season and return victorious from some glorious southern tourist location, I would love to see you guys imbibing with the rest of the student body. It brings us together. It gives us stories. You’ve earned it. But not in season. It’s irresponsible to your teammates and it’s irresponsible to yourselves.
I don’t write this letter for me – I know that no matter how hard I yell, jingle my keys on third down or silently pump my arms to Celtic Chant it’s you out there on the field. I’m simply asking that you put your best self on the field.
And that requires your body to run at peak condition. I know your trainers will tell you this, but even five beers on a Saturday night are going to affect your performance on Monday. It’s just the way it is. And it sucks. But every day you walk around campus you’re the man. Period. It doesn’t matter who else is in the room.
So here’s what my challenge is for the rest of the year: Don’t drink until the off-season. You can still go to any party and have a great time. Play like a Champion, but prepare like one too. Don’t do it for me. Do it for yourselves.