Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Most Exciting Game Ever

I was driving my son to school this morning in the pouring rain, listening to Bill King on the radio. Bill is a radio host for a show that deals exclusively with college athletics, primarily football. As we were creeping down Business-85 due to the Noahide deluge, my son posed a question. “Dad, what was the most exciting football game you have ever seen…whether in person or on T.V.?”

Wow. That question befuddled me. I pride myself in not being stumped by my 14 year old son, but this time, he had me. I have witnessed a number of exciting football games. The most exciting one?

I witnessed Auburn score 19 unanswered points to defeat #2 Florida 27-17 in 2006.

I was in the swamp in 2007 and saw Florida Auburn’d again 20-17 with not one, but two last second field goals.

In 1989 I was at Jordan-Hare to witness the first ever Iron Bowl played there. Auburn defeated the #2 Crimson Tide 30-20.

I was in Birmingham in 1982 to witness Bo Jackson dive over the goal-line pile with two minutes left as Auburn snapped a 9 game losing streak to the Tide, winning 23-22.

There are numerous others that I could recount.

Then there was Friday. Black Friday, the crimson crowd will forever call it. Down by 24, the Tigers came back and defeated the Crimson Tide IN Tuscaloosa AT Bryant Denny 28-27.

I was NOT at the game, but watched every gut wrenching yet glorious moment of it sitting in my 50 yard line living room chair.

Was this year’s Iron Bowl the most exciting football game I have ever witnessed? It is hard to say that. It might be. It certainly was/is at this moment in time.

Having contemplated my son’s question, it suddenly occurred to me. There is no right answer. For you see, each of the games I mentioned above have their OWN place in time/history as the most exciting.

This year’s Iron Bowl doesn’t take the place of those other games in terms of excitement; rather it has its own place. A place that will be remembered throughout the ages. A place I shall never forget.

Frankly, I believe that is what college football is about. It is what gives college football its passion and color. Those games, those comebacks, those wins when you least expect it, those never die, never quit drives that bring the sheer joy, drama and electricity of the game to fans like us. They give us those “high five” and “War Damn Eagle” moments. Moments we remember and cherish for a lifetime.

It’s what causes us to ponder, “was this the most exciting game I have ever seen?”

Perhaps it was.


War Eagle.

How sweet it is!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat

Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat. For those of you who didn’t study Latin, this phrase is the premise of the U.S. legal system. Translated literally, it means “the burden of proof rests on who asserts, no on who denies.” Our legal system, as well as most other nations that are republics or democracies, translate this into a doctrine which means “one is innocent until proven guilty.”

Under this doctrine, the burden of proof is on the one bringing the charge. The “charger” must bring enough compelling evidence to convince a diverse sampling of reasonable people that the evidence is factual, overwhelming and beyond any reasonable doubt as to its truth. In the case of remaining doubt, the accused must be acquitted....i.e. found innocent.

This right is in fact, so fundamental, that most democracies and republics explicitly include it in their constitutions. And lest one thinks that this doctrine only pertains to legal issues within a court of law, most journalistic codes of ethics state that journalists should refrain and desist from referring to persons under investigation as though their guilt is certain.

This brings me to a second point. Due Process: the principle that all legal rights are owed to a person according to the law. At a very basic level, “Due Process” is essentially the concept of “fundamental fairness”. For example, in 1934, the United States Supreme Court held that due process is violated "if a practice or rule offends some principle of justice so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental". A principle like “ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat.”

I have no information on the allegations begin brought against Cam Newton, his family or Auburn University. I don’t know if Urban Meyer is involved or not involved. I don’t know if Mr. Bond, Rogers or anyone else is telling the truth or fabricating the truth. I don’t know any facts, one way or the other. I don’t know if money was asked for, was not asked for, was received, not received. I don’t know any facts at all.

What I DO know is that there was/has been a rush to judgment on Cam. Large and supposedly credible media such as the Orlando Sentinal, FoxSports, ESPN and others have bandwagoned themselves to unprincipled journalism. And this rush to judgment violates everything we hold dear and near as a free people. It violates the very principles which we, ourselves, would want to be judged by were it us that was accused. And it violates journalistic integrity.

For this reason, not because Auburn is having a great year, not because Newton is a bona fide Heisman candidate, not because I am a fan; people should be outraged...disgusted....highly vocal. No one, regardless of how high profile, or low profile for that matter, should be presumed guilty and drug through the mud without regard for the principle of presumed innocent, and due process to find otherwise.