OK, so it's only in the '50s. I refuse to let anyone from up North call me a wimp for saying it's cold, particularly since, every time the mercury rises above 95 up there someone dies.
Anyway, I owe you guys some Webb and some links. Let's get the Webb out of the way first — there's no video to accompany this, but it's an older Webb song called "Thy Mercy," from his days with Caedmons Call (the album was a praise album called "In the Company of Angels").
And with that, we move into your standard fare of Friday links. Before we get into the usual 'Bama football stuff, I felt moved to share this piece by Malcolm Gladwell from the New Yorker, a sobering look at what football players put themselves through to play and how new research may be uncovering just how much danger our bodies are in when we play such a violent game.
There are, of course, two sides to the coin, and I feel inclined to address them both (of course I do).
My first inclination is as a former player and a former athlete: there are distinct benefits to pushing the limits of physical ability, to get the most out of your body, see yourself doing things you never thought you could. When I tell people I played for Spence McCraccken at Opelika, that I played offensive guard at a 6A level (at a mere 175 pounds), that I survived and remained effective on a team that went undefeated and had a very real shot at a state championship ... there's a ton of pride in that. And I firmly believe that fighting through the pain and fatigue that came with playing football has enabled me (and still enables me) to fight through pain and fatigue now, both physically and otherwise.
The other side of the issue is this: things hurt for a reason. One thing I've learned from my wife — and, chillingly, what you'll learn from Gladwell's piece — is that the competitive spirit of animals is remarkably similar to ours. Horses will continue running on broken legs simply because they don't want to give up. Dogs will continue fighting even though they're bleeding profusely because that's what they believe their owners want them to do. Is there a difference between that and a 17-year-old saying to himself, "My coaches, my parents, my community ... everyone expects me to be out there tonight. I'm not sitting out because my shoulder hurts"? Probably not. And I have no idea what the solution is.
Anyway, to lighten the mood — and only because there are less weighty issues to tend — I'm posting this picture I stole from Tower of Bammer, and only because it's hilarious.
— It's Friday, which means everyone's going to be previewing this weekend. The best preview, as always, comes from OTS. Also, since it's Homecoming, here's an editorial from The CW about this year's theme: "Return to Glory."
(Note: It's fantastic to know that the people in charge of coming up with Homecoming themes are no more creative now than they were during our tenure there. It's enough to make me want to drive to Wesley and not participate in any pomping like we used to.)
— Since it wouldn't be fun without someone saying something crazy, here's a commentary predicting a Carolina victory. The author of the piece alleges that a) Alabama has more experience than Carolina (not really true); b) Steve Spurrier is a better on-the-field coach than Nick Saban (debatable but probably a wash); c) Alabama won't handle adversity well (good grief).
— The biggest off-the-field story this week has been the release of Alabama's appeal to the NCAA, which led to the NCAA releasing the redundant phrase "serial repeat offenders" in response. Of course, it's led to differing responses from various pundits, including Todd, who believes we "demolished" the NCAA in the process.
— A bigger on-the-field story that's sorta kinda related to off-the-field: Jerrell Harris is back this week, after sitting out the first half of the season for ... something. This gives coach Saban and Kirby Smart a little more flexibility at linebacker, though roles weren't clearly defined as of this blog.
It's hard to argue too much with what we've been doing — as Chris Low reports, Alabama's defense is eating opposing QBs for lunch. And that's not a Cody joke. OK, it's kind of a Cody joke.
— Speaking of Low, he spent an evening with coach Saban recently, and the resulting post is predictable for anybody who's followed the guy at all: 'Bama fans can't get enough of him, he loves football, he's a tireless recruiter ... and, um, his wife is nice? I guess that's about it.
It's hard to complain in either case: as this column notes, Alabama is one of the two hottest TV tickets in the country right now, as well.
— Other things football: Jerry at WBE reviews the Auburn buck sweep; TBL looks at the White RB in recent history; Dr. Saturday examines some of Saturday's worst games; and Mr. CFB predicts the weekend, with an encouraging result for Ga. Tech. Oh, they'll love that one on the Flats.
(Yes, Peter, I did that just for you.)
— One other non-football note: thanks to all who've been thinking about my brother Whit, who managed to bust his kneecap Sunday and underwent surgery Thursday morning to repair it. He's at home now, recovering, and still in a good bit of pain.
It's for him I'm posting this story from al.com, about coach Grant and up-tempo basketball in Tuscaloosa.
Roll Tide Roll.