This year we lose arguably the best all-around defensive back in Alabama’s long history to the greener pastures of the NFL. The impact Minkah Fitzpatrick had on this program can not be understated. But, if yesterday’s Players’ Tribune piece is any indication, we made just as big of an impact upon Fitzmagic.
Aside from the music, I never felt a ton of culture shock here because of the ways I did connect with the people I encountered. Over the years I’ve had many memorable interactions with Bama fans, but one in particular sticks out. It actually happened a couple of weeks ago, not long after we won the national championship. I was in a Dick’s Sporting Goods signing autographs. There was a line of people and one by one they would walk up and I’d get the chance to have a short conversation with them about their day and we’d exchange a Rroll Tide (obviously) before the next person walked up.
So about 100 or so Roll Tide’s in, this one little girl walked up to the table, and I could tell right away that she was incredibly nervous. I could see her shaking as she approached me. At first, I almost looked around to make sure she was actually reacting to me. Like maybe someone really famous had just walked into Dick’s or something. I see myself as just a 21-year-old kid who’s pretty good at football. I’d never seen anybody that excited to meet me.
Right away I tried to calm her down a bit. I smiled and told her not to be nervous, but she just kind of stood there frozen. I reached over the table and touched her shoulder, and right away she just started bawling. Her parents said how excited she was to meet an actual Alabama football player, and I gave her a hug. It was kind of a scene, but one I’ll always remember. This little girl didn’t know me, but she knew me. She had developed a connection with me by watching me do what I love. The only thing in the world we probably had in common was Alabama football — and that was more than enough for us to share that nice moment.
In a certain way, it was the only sort of thank you or recognition I ever needed. Just to know that me playing a game that I love affected this young person in such a way. It’s something that’s probably going to stick with me forever.
It reminded me of just how thankful I am to have had the opportunity to be a small part of something so big and great.
Venture forth to reading. Wonderful stuff from the best ever.