College football and pro football – no contest
Jim Grammer, When it was a game
College football has a totally different atmosphere than that of professional football. I think it is because college players, for the most part, work and struggle for the sake of the game and not for the final gain.
I know with some of the scandals and recruiting violations you read about, one would not think that this is not the case. I still maintain these unscrupulous events only represent a small percentage of people that tend to be dishonest.
You will find dishonest people in the business world, politics, and even the clergy, so unfortunately the dishonest people represent a portion of all society, not just one particular part of it.
I believe the vast majority of college athletes, even today, play because of an inner drive, a determination to be the best they can be, and a wholesome competitive spirit.
The excitement of the game around a college campus just makes college football what the game was intended to be, in my opinion.
It has always amused me that people from all over, that never attended the school nor probably know anyone who did, would gather on a college campus and cheer on their team. I say "their team" because they have adopted it and it becomes a part of them.
We see this almost everyday with Auburn fans and Alabama fans with their bumper stickers, flags and car tags.
Think about it, do you know any other endeavor in life where the common people find so much pride, enjoyment and excitement?
I'll give you an example of an experience of mine I think says something for the difference in college and pro football.
In 1971, Alabama played Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, actually it was New Year's night of 1972. It was the battle between No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation.
It was Alabama's first year of the wishbone offense, and, even though I'm somewhat prejudice, what I consider one of the best teams Alabama ever fielded.
The great Nebraska team of that year had been selected by Sports Illustrated as the "best college football team, ever." Need I say more?
They were supposedly the best two teams in the Country and from those two teams, only two players lasted more than three years in professional football. Only one player, John Hannah, was able to make a career of the game.
By the way, Sports Illustrated selected John as one of the greatest offensive lineman in professional football history, and rightfully so.
The distinction I am trying to make here is from rosters of both those great football teams, only one made a living at it. So, there must have been a lot of young guys on these teams working hard to be the best they could be even though they did not have the tools or ability to make it on the pro ranks.
They must have been playing for more than possibility of money they would make.
They were – I was there.
I have nothing against professional sports. If I did my wife would sure wonder why I watch so much of it. But, I just don't get the excitement, the urge to stand and cheer, or the nervous tingling in the pit of my stomach before a professional game like I do for the college game.
I just think college football is what the game was meant to be.
*Jim Grammer's new book "The Long Gravel Road to Bama" can be purchased at The Book Cellar in Hartselle.