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An exercise in futility

Bob Kessler | Friday, December 4, 2009

Dear Jimmy,
You probably don’t know me, so let me introduce myself. My name is Bob Kessler. I have been one of your biggest fans for the past four years. The first time I saw you was on Saturday, April 22, 2006 when you walked past me and my future roommate after entering the upstairs meeting room at the College Football Hall of Fame to make what was probably the biggest announcement of your life — until now.
Yes, I was there that day.
When my roommate and I heard that you would be announcing your college choice at the Hall of Fame, we figured that we had to be there for what could be a program-defining announcement. We powered past our hangovers from the previous night of debauchery and made our way through the mean streets of South Bend so that we could stand in the back of the press conference listening to all the bloggers pretend like they had actual inside information about things.
We watched you walk into the room sporting goofily-spiked hair like Sonic the Hedgehog and wearing enough rings to make the Dark Lord of Mordor jealous. We listened to you talk about national championships and Heisman Trophies (take note of the plural tense), and your hope that you would be in the Hall some day.
As we left the press conference that day, we wondered if you would have any chance of achieving the things we hoped you would. We didn’t know what to make of the cocksure 18-year old that Sports Illustrated had previously proclaimed to be “The Kid With The Golden Arm.” For two years after that day, through the painful 2007 season and the maddening 2008 season, we still were never too sure what to think.
But then, a funny thing happened: You morphed into one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. You threw touchdown passes with pinpoint accuracy. You orchestrated game-winning drives when nobody thought you could. You played with toughness and poise, and were the leader that we had always hoped you would be. You lived up to your word: Charlie Weis was certainly not fired because of you.
So now you have a choice to make. Someday soon you will step into another conference room to make the biggest announcement of your young life: whether or not you will leave school early to go to the NFL. While I’m sure you have many smart individuals advising you on this decision, I figured that my crack team of Wikipedia researchers could help you out, and offer some items to consider:
Item One: Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Carson Palmer, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Donavan McNabb, Eli Manning. At first glance this might appear to be a list of the best and most successful quarterbacks playing in the NFL today. While that might be a true statement, it is also a relatively subjective measure. Objectively, there is one thing that all of these men have in common: They all went to college for at least four years.
Item Two: Ryan Leaf, Andre Ware, Tim Couch, Michael Vick, Todd Marinovich, JaMarcus Russell, Rex Grossman. This is a list of players that have left college early in recent years to pursue their NFL dreams. Think about that.
Item Three: Trent Dilfer and Mark Rypien. These are the only quarterbacks since 1985 (as far back as my research goes) that have won a Super Bowl after leaving college early. Shockingly, the two combined to play for 10 NFL teams over the course of their careers.
Item Four: Washington Redskins, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, St. Louis Rams, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers. This is the complete list of teams that could potentially draft you in the first half of the first round.
Item Five: The intangibles. A year from now you could be quarterbacking a bad NFL team to no fanfare, or a tailor could be taking your measurements for your Heisman Trophy suit. You could be riding my fantasy football bench behind Tony Romo, or you could be preparing for a trip to a major bowl game. You could be a footnote to Notre Dame History only vaguely remembered years from now by those that saw you play, or you could be a legend beloved by generations of Notre Dame followers.
All the money in the world cannot make you a legend and it cannot make you beloved. It cannot give you happiness or peace of mind. Showing devotion to this University (to the students and alumni that have supported you through the worst three consecutive seasons in Notre Dame history) can give you these things. Leading your teammates through this time of turmoil to the successful season that would undoubtedly await can give you these things.
One more year can give you these things.

Bob Kessler is a 2009 graduate who realizes that writing the above column was most likely an exercise in futility. He is the writer of Things Notre Dame Students Like and the17thgrade.com. You can contact him at [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.