To the members and associates of the Alabama Crimson Tide Football Team, 2008:
I know sounds a little strange coming mere hours after a disappointing loss to Florida in the SEC Championship Game. You're hurting right now, the way competitors are supposed to when they give their all and come up short. You're thinking of all the things you could've done differently, bounces that didn't go your way, inches that -- as Al Pacino says in Any Given Sunday -- make up the difference between winning and losing. I've been there. I get that.
And it's in that vein I come to you now saying thank you. Thank you, on behalf of Alabama fans like me who have suffered through 10 years' worth of embarrassment, scandal and grief.
You may not know this, but with a few exceptions, the last decade as an Alabama fan really hasn't been very much fun. We've endured losing campaigns, two separate off-the-field scandals involving head coaches and general taunts from fans of our rivals. We've been told we live in the past. We've been told we have unreasonable expectations. We've been told our program is history.
With all that in mind, thank you. Thank you for what you did this season. Thank you for defying expectations at every turn, for never letting down when you had every right to, for doing everything with class and dignity. Thank you for taking back the state, taking back the West, taking back the headlines.
Those of us who know a little football know this roster isn't the most talented roster in the nation, nor even the most talented roster in the SEC. That's why we've all loved watching you this season. You have been everything we love about a football team: gritty, hard-working, disciplined. We have simply loved watching this team play football this season.
As fans, we believe the program turned a corner this season. There's no reason to think we're going anywhere anytime soon -- Alabama football is now back for good, and likely should continue getting better (with a man as driven as your head coach running the show).
But when they write the book about this new era of football, your names will all come first. Every team after this one will have to compare itself to you. No loss to anyone can take that from you. You've earned every accolade you will receive from here on out.
And so, thank you. We love you guys.
This, finally, is Alabama football.