Life’s Playlist…. Winners by Frank Sinatra

Sunday night my Facebook timeline exploded.

It happened around 6PM as the New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars game came to an end.

I hadn’t watched the game, but within second I knew the Patriots had won.  My timeline was filled with “Brady is a cheater,” “Brady is the G.O.A.T.” (greatest of all-time), “referees won another one for the Patriots,” ” no one can beat the Patriots,” and on and on.

I’m not a fan of professional football, I haven’t watched one play of the season this year.  Some of that is because of the mix of politics and football, but more than anything else I find professional football passionless and I am passionate about my sports and expect the participants to be passionate as well.

I find the game to be boring.  I’ll probably watch the Super Bowl until the half because I want to see Justin Timberlake and Pink, but I could care less who wins.

As I read the posts about Brady and the Patriots, I was taken back to my passion, college football.

I love college football, I have for my entire life.  I was born and bred a Georgia Bulldog and will bleed red and black until the day I die.

My heart was crushed when my team lost the National Championship this year and as I read the comments about the Patriots, I couldn’t help but think how those same comments are parallel to the University of Alabama.

When Alabama won the National Championship against Georgia, social media exploded with comments of “hate Saban,” ” Saban is a god,” ” Alabama cheats,” “the refs gave the game to ‘Bama,” except this time the comments were coming from fans of my team.

I don’t agree with the comments about Saban, Alabama, Brady or the Patriots, year after year they have simply proven to be better than everyone else.  Why don’t we honor that instead of trying to tear it down?

At what point as a society did we stop honoring success and start tearing it down?

It is unfortunate but today, in the age of participation trophies and people who are professionally offended we no longer honor the success of those who get out, work hard and rise to the top.

At what point did it become the rule that everyone should have what everyone else has?  I think everyone should have the opportunity to have what everyone else has, but it shouldn’t be given to them.

It is important to note that the people who are successful usually got that way through hard work and determination.  Yes, for some it is easier than others, but for many of us who have never been given a hand-out our successes are built on the blood, sweat and tears of our brow and not by holding our hands out waiting to get what is “ours.”

In sports, business, politics and indeed life, those who work hard, those who have the strongest work ethic, those who put in the grind usually rise to the top.  Why do we no longer celebrate this?

The way I look at it, the reason the Patriots and Alabama continue to win is because they beat their competition on and off the field.  I’m not saying they are better than anyone else, but when they walk in a room they demand respect because of their successes.

When teams start beating them on the field, then that air of superiority that surrounds them will begin to evaporate.  Tom Brady and Nick Saban have earned their successes, they devote their lives to their sport and that devotion shows in their victories.

Sports is like life, those who rise to the top usually do it through hard work, persistence and yes, some luck.

One of my favorite songs is today’s Life’s Playlist selection and sums up my thoughts better than I ever could…… Winners performed by Frank Sinatra.

Listen to the words, Here’s to the Winners, ALL OF US CAN BE!

You Gotta Believe….. GO DAWGS!

Tonight the Georgia Bulldogs will play the Alabama Crimson Tide for the National Championship in College Football.

The game will take place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

It should be a good game with two SEC power-houses battling for the ultimate prize.

Alabama has been a participant in the National Championship numerous times over the last several years.

The last time the Georgia Bulldogs played for the title was in 1981, in New Orleans, in the Sugar Bowl, against Notre Dame.

In 1981, I was there.

A few days before the game, my parents, a family friend Chuck Foster, my best friend Andrew Lampros and I piled into an old motor home that my dad had borrowed from his brother.

We left Clayton early in the morning heading to the big game in New Orleans.

Over the next couple of days we toured the sights and sounds of The Big Easy.  We enjoyed the classic architecture, the street performers and got into the spirit of the game on Bourbon Street surrounded by thousands of Dawg fans who knew this was our year!

The Sugar Bowl would be played on New Year’s Day and the revelry of a New Year’s Eve celebration was something this 16-year-old and his friend had never witnessed.

We strolled Bourbon Street with my parents and Mr. Foster, no doubt mouths wide open at the sights and sounds we saw.  We made our way into Pat O’Brien’s Bar.  (In those days and especially in New Orleans it wasn’t uncommon to see teenagers in a bar, especially with their parents.)

In Pat O’Brien’s we met up with friends and mama and daddy let Andrew and I indulge in our first “Hurricane.”  A drink made with almost every type of alcohol imaginable topped with fruit juice.

At some point during our stay at Pat O’Brien’s, we were joined by my brother Sam and a group of his friends who were also in town for the Game.

Somehow Sam convinced mama and daddy to let Andrew and I go with them to usher in the New Year on Bourbon Street.  They promised they would get us home safe and sound.

So Andrew and I, and a group of 20-something guys made our way out into the night.  And what a night it was, memories that I still have to this day.

The next morning, after being delivered back to my parents safe and sound, we arose to the promise that THIS was Georgia’s year!  Nursing the effects of the night before, we prepared for the game.

As we made our way into the SuperDome, the Georgia faithful were everywhere, the excitement building to a frenzy as the Dawgs took the field.

That night we won, as the team carried Vince Dooley onto the field atop their shoulders, the Georgia Bulldogs were National Champions, defeating Notre Dame 17-10 completing a perfect season.

Andrew and I made our way out onto the field that night, surrounded by all the other happy Dawg fans and in those moments and the many moments that led up to that victory celebration, I created memories that have carried me for more than 35 years.

We still talk about that trip to New Orleans, it was a time that will forever be etched into our minds as some of the best of our life.

Deep into the second half of the game, my dad gave Andrew and I a life lesson that we still quote today.  As Notre Dame was moving down the field and threatening to score, a lady near us said loud enough for everyone in our area to hear something like “oh, I don’t think we are going to do it, I don’t think we are going to do it.”

Without missing a beat, my daddy yelled out “lady you gotta believe, you gotta believe.”

We did and he did.

Tonight as the National Championship Game is played, there will be young boys and girls in the stadium who will be making memories that last a lifetime.  Memories that they will look back on as they are older and celebrate, they will celebrate the excitement of a night, and the simple moments that merge together for one of life’s greatest experiences.

And maybe, just maybe, they will learn a life lesson…. you gotta believe!

GO DAWGS!