The Crimson and White Roundtable is an idea we stole from the Penn State bloggers back before the A-Day game, and it's something we'll be featuring every Friday from here on out. This week we'll be doing the hosting while some of our friends from around the Bamasphere chime in with an answer, but next week the hosting duties will fall to one of them. Don't worry, we'll give you a link to let you see what everyone is discussing over there. Since I started us out by hosting this week, it fell to me to come up with a question for everyone else to answer, and for y'all to chime in on in the comments section. So, without further ado, here is this week's Crimson and White Roundtable:
"Do you think Alabama should retire jersey numbers under special circumstances and, if so, what should those circumstances be? Is there any number you'd like to see retired?"
I'll leave it to everyone else to answer before giving my response, since I'm such an excellent host.
|And Elvira is the Hostess with the Mostess. Mmmmm....Hostess.....|
|Nico - Roll Bama Roll|
I certainly don't think we should retire jerseys because of a "special" scenario. I can only assume that Todd is referring to Tyrone Prothro. Prothro obviously gave all he had to this team and unfortunately suffered what is likely a career ending injury. Sadly, this type of thing isn't unique in sports (especially football) and I don't think it's reason enough to retire a jersey number even if Prothro is one of the most beloved players of recent times.
Even through DuBose's four years of playing favorites, and through Shula's favoritism towards Brodie, it was still a TEAM. Everyone on the field wearing the most basic uniform possible, all working towards the same thing. No heisman winners and no retired jerseys, just a damn good football program.
By retiring a jersey you almost point out that one person was the foundation for everything that was to come after that, but with Alabama, the foundation was set from the very beginning. To retire a jersey at this point in the game would be ridiculous, and a slap in the face to everyone that came before one of these "new-age" players.
By "special circumstances" I would assume you are referring to Tyrone Prothro. While I do agree that he holds a special place in the hearts of all Alabama fans, there are still plenty of players who were injured that did just as much as Pro. For a recent example, you've got players like JB Closner, who won't get to play football anymore. He did just as much to hold together that offensive line as Pro did receiving. Derrick Thomas was an All-American, then an All-Pro and was killed in a tragic car wreck, but we haven't retired his jersey. Yes, I've got a soft spot for Prothro, but that's why we have names on the spring practice awards.
Y'know...I never thought anyone after David Palmer would be able to wear #2...but they did. Haha.
This leads me to my point. Since Alabama has never retired numbers, the numbers become a tradition-laden thing in itself. You can't say that wearing No. 12 at Alabama is not a big deal, or Derrick Thomas' very-linebacker No. 55, or Cornelius Bennett's No. 97. Like the color of the jersey and the numbered helmet, the number itself is a living representation of Alabama - past, present and future. I remember when that horribe DB, Gerald Dixon wore No. 4. As in, "Hey, who the fuck blew that coverage? Oh, fucking No. 4. I hate that guy." Then Prothro rescued No. 4.
The numbers are organic, becoming iconic with each new player. And, for a team where the numbers are everywhere, I say leave it as is.
|Alchemist - Eight in the Box|
Alabama football is steeped in history, but to retire a jersey takes away that element of living history that allows the older generation to connect to the current generation and vice versa. Each generation has there own favorite #54, #12, #88, #10, #77, #3, #82 or any of a long list of numbers that stand out in the long Crimson line that stretches back across the decades. So whose favorite do we chose when we retire the number? Do you retire Bear Bryant's #12 or Joe Namath's #12? Would it be Peter Kim's #3 or Van Tiffin's #3? I'd rather speculate who will be the next great #..... rather than argue over who should own a particular number when it is retired. Maybe that is old school, or just boring, but in my mind Alabama Football is great because of the ownership we all share, not because of a particular ownership by singular individuals. I can understand why others might see this differently, and I look forward to reading how everyone else feels about this.
To answer this question I've done some researching and I see that college problems like Tennessee, Ohio State, Georgia, Auburn, Florida State, South Carolina and I'm sure there are many more programs that have retired numbers for some of their great athletes. And schools like Notre Dame, Florida and Alabama do not. I thought that doing this would clearly show that there is a one sided debate, but it's obviously not. Some schools do, some schools don't.
So to answer the first question should we retire jersey numbers? I must answer no, we should not. Quarterbacks, Joe Namath, Kenny Stabler, Pat Trammell and Brodie Croyle all wore the number 12. But the number did not get them a better result, their ability and work ethic got them the results they wanted. Too often teams single out a specific number and say because so-and-so had this number and did so good with it, you can't have it. We're going to retire it, and hang it up somewhere, so everyone can see it, and no one else can wear it.... Give me a break, it's a number. If you want to honor a player, put his last name up. There's no better feeling that making your family name look good.
The next part of the question is should we retire the number for special circumstances, and if so what are those circumstances?
Don't get me wrong, I think people who excel in their professions should be honored somehow, but special circumstances for a college athelete should not make you (or your number) more likely to be retired. If it takes a special circumstance to honor you, then whatever you did must not have been good enough to be honored without this special circumstance.
The world is becoming too sympathetic sometimes. We're all about honoring people who've stumped their toe along life's journey. I've stumped my toe, where's my jersey at?
But if you've got to honor someone because they are the best thing since peanut butter met jelly, then honor their name, not their jersey. We'll never how wearing the #12 would feel, but lets not take it away from a kid who is dreaming to wear that number just because someone else did something good while wearing it.
With all of the great athletes to put the Crimson and White jersey on, we'd have less than a handful of available jerseys to pass out, and that's when it could get ridiculous fast.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
The only circumstance I would accept a retired number is if a current member of the football team were to suddenly die. I think it would be a nice gesture towards his family and fans to retire his number for at least the predicted 4 years he would be playing. Other than that, I can't really say I'm for it.
However, if I was forced to pick a jersey number to retire no matter what, I would pick Don Hutson's. He was the best receiver of his day and made people ignore that "other" End, Paul Bryant. We won the Rose Bowl in 1935 beating Stanford 29-13 with Hutson catching 6 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns. He was a great player.
|The Capstone Report|
However, I can see the appeal. There are special players, who make special plays that stay with us throughout our lives. For many of us, Van Tiffin's kick is a keystone to our Alabama memories. That game was the most exciting, dramatic one I can recall. Just for that kick alone, Tiffin should be enshrined in our hearts.
But to make that kick, it required teamwork. The entire fourth quarter (the entire game) was magical. From Gene Jelks run, to Mike Shula's passing, for Alabama to get into the position to win the game, it required everyone.
And that is what college athletics is about-everyone. Retiring a number singles out the player above the team, and that is fine for professional sports, but not for college athletics. And at Alabama, it would be difficult to find a number not worthy of being retired for more than one player.
|Todd - Roll Bama Roll|
I will admit that when I sent out the question my response was going to be something along the lines of "Alabama shouldn't retire numbers based on performance, because then we wouldn't have any more numbers to give out, but given the circumstances, I think #4 should be retired because there will never be another Prothro and to have someone else wear the #4 without being able to live up to the standard Pro set would be a tragedy," but everyone's responses were so persuasive they've changed my mind. I agree that a certain jersey number should be a reward (#12 for a QB, #55 for a LB, and etc.) because of all the great players who wore that number. I know that I let emotion cloud my judgement on this, and a part of me still thinks that no one should get to wear #4 again because, to me, that number is Prothro's and no one else should wear it. But I'm sure plenty could say the same thing about #55 being DT's, or #12 being Namath's, and so on. So I'm going to change my mind...sort of. Instead of saying #4 should be retired, I think it should be awarded to a receiver that has proven the ability to wear that number and do it the justice it deserves.