September 24th, 2010

Friday Four Cents: A Tribute

In the interest of full disclosure, I had decided that I wouldn’t write about Football anymore. I realized that in my childlike anticipation and excitement for football season, the sport had taken up an inordinate amount of space in my writing. In order to combat that, I gave myself a mandate to find other things to write about. I was doing good, too.

Whether or not you are aware of it, The University of Houston lost their starting quarterback, Case Keenum, last week in a devastatingly awful game against UCLA last week. The senior tore his ACL, effectively ending his career as a Houston Cougar and his assault on Timmy Chang’s record for passing yards in a career.

For the second straight week, Keenum fell to the ground attempting to make a tackle after throwing an interception. You could read the seriousness of the injury in Chris Thompson’s reaction. The offensive guard surmised the situation and slammed his helmet to the turf in frustration. He then walked over and grabbed Keenum’s helmet to carry it off the field for him. Sitting in the Rosebowl, I thought to myself “There goes the season.”

As I continued to think about it, I realized what a selfish outlook this was. Whatever dreams I had for this team, they couldn’t compare to those of the players.

On the field, Case epitomized the UH spirit and our team. He didn’t have the prototypical size or rocket arm that people look for in a quarterback. He wasn’t highly recruited. UH was the only school to offer him a scholarship. All he did was come in and lead the nation in offense for the last two years, command the respect of his team and competitors and work every day to get better.

Case was a great quarterback at a school with a history of great quarterbacks, but his legacy is not what he did on the field, but the person he was off of it. The University of Houston couldn’t ask for a better ambassador than Case Keenum, not because he was a good football player, but because of the type of person he is. In an era when cheating has become the norm and athletes are being busted for accepting improper benefits from agents, it’s refreshing to root for a player who does all the right things.

A notable Heisman contender, Case deflected talk about his gaudy stats to the efforts of his teammates. He never wanted to be in the spotlight, but he handled it with composure and grace.

At Fan Appreciation Day, Case continued to sign autographs well after the allotted time. What was so impressive to me was that even though it was a good three hours into the autograph signing and after a hard practice in the sweltering sun, he took the effort to flash my 10 year old cousin a huge smile, ask him how he was and give him the cougar paw. It’s character like this that we really should celebrate.

I’m not a religious man, but last year Case included Isaiah 40:13 on his eye black. That practice was disallowed this year with the “Tebow” Rule. So I’ll post it here:

but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
-Isaiah 40:31

Case, I hope that you continue to find strength in those words. You’ll always represent everything that is good and decent about College Athletics to me. I tip my old dirty UH Ball cap to you for a hell of a ride and for everything that you’ve done for my University.

— Marc

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