Thanks For Staying, Jalen

Jalen Hurts, You've Earned Your Place In Bama Football Stories

Your dedication does not unnoticed.

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It has been two weeks since Alabama fans and football fans everywhere witnessed a Disney like a movie. Jalen Hurts came off the bench for an injured Tua Tagovailoa to lead the Crimson Tide to a come from behind victory. Ten months earlier in the same building, Tua replaced Jalen to lead Alabama to a national championship and now Jalen got his chance to play hero. In a time in college where athletes transfer due to playing time, Jalen Hurts stayed at Alabama and took on his role as backup quarterback.

There was no doubt that Jalen and Tua aren't friends and supporters of one another, however, it must have been difficult not being on the field as much as you wanted. Jalen handled this title the same way he had handled his time as the starting quarterback "calm, cool and collected". He supported his team and the team supported him. Each time Jalen entered to play in any game, the fans would give him a standing ovation. When Jalen decided to stay at Alabama for the season and burned a possible redshirt, the fans greeted Hurts the way he had been greeted while he was a starter.

Then on December 1st, 2018, the Alabama students erupted with support for Jalen when he was needed most. For someone to come in after being replaced and deliver an important victory shows how much Jalen Hurts loves his school but it also shows how much Alabama loves Jalen.

Dear Jalen,

You have come a long way since arriving at Alabama in 2016. To start out as the scout team quarterback to becoming the first true freshman to start under Nick Saban at Alabama, you brought a new dynamic to Alabama. You provided a spark in the offense and showed how the game was adapting. You were never phased. Being down by 21 points in your first SEC away game you brought the team back and now seniors in college were viewing an 18-year-old as the leader of this team. Even why times got tough you always found a way to stay positive and that was on display in the national championship game.

Everyone has their struggles and while it can be frustrating sometimes a team needs a spark. When Tua came in you did not throw a tantrum or yell but found ways to help and became his biggest fan. You were there to congratulate him and celebrate him and that did not change even when you became the backup quarterback. You were the first one to hug him after a touchdown and you always worked with him to find ways to improve. You showed college football how friendship and family come from football but also how it is important to remember after football.

The relationship you have with Tua goes deeper than the football field. Hearing that Tua's parents are grateful for you and pray for you helps people understand the connection and the outreach the two of you share is something people have started to look at. You stayed when things got tough. You could have taken the escape from Tuscaloosa and gone anywhere else but you didn't. You made an important decision and when you were needed the most you were there. You stayed because you wanted to improve and you knew that even though you might not have as much playing time that you were becoming a leader of this team. People looked up to you and when you took the field in Bryant Denny there no bigger supporters than the student section. You remind us to always stay strong when things get tough.

So, Jalen, the football analysts can say what they want about you as a quarterback but as a player, you have shown your resiliency. You have shown that your heart is in the sport and you embrace the adversity. The game of football is more than just the game itself but the relationships created. Thank you for reminding the community about the hard work needed to succeed. You have shown that you can be the biggest supporter but you can also be a superhero when needed. There are only a few people like you in this world Jalen and Alabama is lucky to have you.

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn't sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It's obvious your calling wasn't coaching and you weren't meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn't have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn't your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that's how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “It's not what you say, its how you say it."

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won't even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don't hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That's the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she's the reason I continued to play."

I don't blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn't working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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They Really Are The Same Old Jets

They do not know how to run a football team and have somehow turned a once-promising offseason into one of angst, anxiety, and disappointment.

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As a collective group us Jets fans do not expect much from the franchise, we are aware of their struggles and we take all of the negative shade other fans throw at us.

However, not even a month ago I wrote an article truly believing that these "New" New York Jets were going to turn it all around, that this new regime might have just figured it out, that our owners just might have fallen upon something. They released sick new jerseys, signed arguably the best two available free agents in linebacker CJ Mosley and running back Leveon Bell. The team also brought in offensive guru Adam Gase as their head coach and Greg Williams as defensive coordinator.

Everything seemed right in Jets land, I mean they were not even the laughing stock of New York, that title belonged to the Giants all off-season.

Until it didn't.

Around a month later from that first article I wrote, I am here righting another article feeling completely different about the state of the franchise. The amount of hope I had for this team going into the future has almost been completely ripped away from me and all I feel is the disheartening truth that the Jets will never be different. You might be wondering what I am talking about, and if you follow the NFL, I am sure you already know what I am talking about but for those who don't here it is...

The Jets fired their General Manager Mike Maccagnan. Okay someone was fired, no big deal. No, this is a big deal. A GM's job in the NFL is to build a team. Sign players, draft players, build a culture and evaluate players. The Jets ended last season by firing their head coach Todd Bowlers. Christopher Johnson the acting owner of the team decided to hang on to GM Macagnan feeling he has done a good enough job for one more chance at building a winner. Maccagnan and Johnson worked closely together to find the next head coach Adam Gase and entered the off-season with the second most cap space in football a young QB and the #3 pick in the draft. Like I said before all was good in Jets world. Then May 15th happened.

I mean the Jets firing Maccagnan is not what is so bothersome in this situation, it is the timing. I mean do they realize they could have just gotten rid of this guy back in January before the whole off-season and opened up what probably would have been the most attractive job in football... a lot of money a young QB and the 3rd pick. But no, that would have made too much sense for the Jets and that is why they did not do it. This move has been a bombshell, unnecessary drama surrounding this team because of incompetent owners. It is really unfortunate. There is a part of me that wants to believe the media is making this seem so much worse than it actually is because, let's be honest, that is what sports media does.

But with the Jets, it is always different.

The impossible, the crazy, the most bone-heading, mind-boggling things are 100% possible. As my favorite radio voice, Joe Benigno said, "the Jets are a disgrace... they are not even a second class team, they are like an 8th class team." He is right on the money there. Unfortunately, the team I hate that I love will never be a 1st class organization with continuing to make unbelievable move after unbelievable move. They are a place I'm sure people really have to be desperate to work at because the owners do not have a clue about the game of football. They do not know how to run a football team and have somehow turned a once-promising offseason into one of angst, anxiety, and disappointment.

When this article posts this story will probably be a week or so old, so who knows the Jets might have found their next GM, and it could be an executive everyone raves about, but at this very moment, I do not even know what to say anymore, other than this team will forever and always be the SAME OLD JETS...

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