Friday, October 16, 2009

Dear Fighting Irish

An Open Letter to the Notre Dame Football Team

Dear Fighting Irish,

Tomorrow's a big day. It's a big day for you, and a big day for tens of thousands of Notre Dame alumni and for the millions of subway alumni who embrace Our Lady's University and all she stands for. There has been an intensity and a buzz on campus all week that is felt all the way out here in Southern California. Your fans and supporters genuinely believe that this is the year the Fighting Irish can restore the proper balance to the college football universe by beating USC. We BELIEVE you can do it.

I was going to write to encourage you to think about all the history of Notre Dame football, and to go out there tomorrow and win the game for Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian, and Holtz. To win for the former players that tried their best to "Play Like a Champion" when they wore that uniform and ran out through the tunnel and into Notre Dame Stadium. To win for the alumni, young and old, who will be standing in the middle of their living rooms and cheering you on because they can't sit down during a Notre Dame football game even when it's on T.V.

But I'm not going to encourage you to beat USC for me, or for thousands of other alumni and fans and players you have never met and will probably never meet. It would be both foolish and selfish to expect you to play for all of us.

You need to play tomorrow for YOU. The mighty Trojans of Southern California are rolling into Notre Dame Stadium tomorrow afternoon and they want to show the world, again, that they are better than you. Look around your locker room. No player on your team has EVER won a game against USC. Every Notre Dame - USC game gets a tremendous amount of national and even international attention and every game is broadcast on national television so that everyone who cares at all about college football can watch the game. The senior class that graduated last Spring never beat USC, nor did the seniors that graduated the year before that, or the year before that. If Notre Dame does not win tomorrow, then this year's seniors will be added to that group of players who never beat Southern Cal.

Why does it matter? It matters because the results of the USC game stick with you for the rest of your life like a giant tattoo on your face. The USC - Notre Dame rivalry is one of the biggest in all of sport, and for the rest of your life after you leave Notre Dame you will be reminded about how you played against the Trojans. In your social life, in your professional life, everywhere you go it will be with you. It can be with you in a good way, or in a bad way - but it will be with you. You'll bump into Notre Dame alumni and fans. You'll meet alumni of other college football powers. You'll be introduced to, and maybe even work with, former players and coaches from USC. And the question will always be there.

How'd you guys do against USC when you played at Notre Dame?

You chose Notre Dame perhaps for many reasons. Hopefully you have found there what you sought. But one of the things you came to Notre Dame for was the chance to prove that you have the talent and the determination to be the best. Now is your chance. For the past several years the USC game has, unfortunately, shown that the Notre Dame football team was not the best, was not among the best, and was a long way from being the best. Tomorrow is your chance to prove that things at Notre Dame have changed. That we do have great players with the talent and the drive and the heart to be among the best. You have the chance to go out into the stadium tomorrow and make that statement, and if you meet the challenge and beat the Trojans, you will have the privilege of carrying that victory with you for the rest of your life. And you will also have the distinction of being the team that restored Notre Dame to it's rightful place among the college football elite.

Play for that. And play for your fellow students in the Northwest corner of the stadium who will also be asked, for the rest of their lives after they leave Notre Dame, "How'd you guys do against USC when you were there?" You guys are all in this together.

Play hard. Run like your hair is on fire. Hit like a freight train. If you get hit hard, hit back twice as hard. Finish your blocks. Take care of the football. Don't commit a dumb penalty. Play every play with the urgency of a last-minute drive. Wrap 'em up on your tackles. Play with all the heart we know you have.

And Beat the Trojans!

Believe me, no one will mind if you win tomorrow for you, instead of for us. We'll still be just as proud to be sons and daughters of Notre Dame, and just as happy that Notre Dame football is back.

Go Irish!


OC Domer


patrick said...

Best letter I've read this week!!!

Go Irish!

Domerbill said...

Win this one for Charlie. Yes he given all he has to this team his respect, his love
Everything he has he has put into this team. Remember Charlie limping along the side line last year that’s when he showed you his commitment. He was in great pain but didn’t let you down. Now he needs you to step up and play with everything you have. Now Your coach needs you. Are you man enough to play one game, above any you have ever played, for a man that would walk in so much pain you and I would scream so that he would not let you down. Yes everyone will know tomorrow but most importantly Charlie will know.

Whiskey said...

Great post OC. I couldn't agree more. I want to see this team do this for themselves. These kids have been through so much these last two years it would be really special to see them go get this one.

Anonymous said...

I join with OC Domer, Patrick, and Domerbill. The Notre Dame Nation is united as one today in a common cause.