There’s a story that back in the 1960s when legendary football coach and racist symbol Paul “Bear” Bryant was the coach at the University of Alabama, he was approached by federal agents who told him that he had to integrate his team. Coach Bryant–whose protÃ©gÃ© include “Broadway” Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler, among others–resisted the entreaty.
It was Alabama, in the 1960s, The Bear complained. The governor of the state, George Corley Wallace, would have none of it, he insisted. The feds put their foot down. Integration was the order of the day.
But the alumni would withdraw their support, the Bear replied. He couldn’t have an African American player on the Crimson Tide squad, it just wouldn’t be right. It wouldn’t work, he complained and complained. But the feds said, they would at least have to let a Black player try out for the squad.
Finally, Coach Bryant relented. Bring the player and he would let him try out for the squad, he said. When the feds showed up with the player, the coach told him he would first have to return a punt. The Black player awaited the ball all by himself. When the ball was in the air, the coach told all the rest of the players on the team, offense and defense to cover the punt, all of them. “Go get him!” the coach said.
The Black try-out caught the ball and began to run toward the mob. The squad rushed forward. They collided at mid-field in a cloud of dust. Then, as the dust cleared, the Black player broke free and began to sprint toward the goal line.
The coach jumped to his feet and pumped his fist into the air. “Look at that Puerto Rican go!” he shouted. As the story goes, the player made the team. Miracles do happen.
Well, the climax to Super Bowl XLII was just such a miraculous play. There was less than a minute and a half to go. It was third down, with five yards to go. The New York Giants were down by four points, on their own 44 yard line. A field goal would not be enough for them to win. They needed a touchdown. Little Brother Quarterback Eli Manning was swarmed by a host of New England Patriot defensive players. It looked like he was certain to go down, the clock running, with no timeouts remaining.
Then as the dust cleared, Manning burst from the crowd, a New England player desperately holding on to his jersey, trying to restrain him. Manning not only avoided the sack (Miracle No. 1), he heaved the ball down field to receiver David Tyree, who with a defender all over him managed to catch the ball, and hold on to it pressing the ball to his helmet as he fell to the ground, not letting the ball come loose for an incompletion (Miracle No. 2).
Well, that made a believer out of me. The Giants went on and scored a touchdown and won the Super Bowl, upsetting the previously undefeated “Dream Team” Patriots, denying them football immortality and the first 19-0 perfect season. Miracles do happen!
Well, it just may be, that after the Super Bowl, the presidential primary Super Tuesday election on Feb. 5, may just produce another such miracle. Freshman Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), could win just enough votes and delegates to upset the invincible political machine of Democratic front-runner Sen. Hilary Rodham Clinton, and thus become the first African American major party presidential nominee–and odds-on lock to win the White House in November in my opinion.
Miracles do happen.
They’ve happened before.