A message for the players
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Tomorrow's game is your last game at Notre Dame this year and the last game forever for the seniors. Stop and think about it: You will never again play at the place that you have given yourself to — your blood, sweat and tears, yes your all — for four years of your life! You have worked so hard, so incredibly hard, for so long that it is unthinkable to leave any shadow of a doubt in your mind that you did all of that for nothing — to simply walk away at the end when it matters most. This game will last only one hour on the game clock, but the memory of it — good or bad — will never be erased for as long as you breathe.
To give less than 200 percent on the field will invite your own conscience to replay this game with Boston College over and over again throughout the coming years like a beating drum with the question droning on and on: Was I the one who let my teammates down? If I had pushed myself just a little bit harder, would we have won that game?
What difference does it make? It's only one game, isn't it? Well, for one thing, it is Senior Day, and for the seniors, this is it. The culmination of four years: It's like the stone in a ring — one day, the centerpoint of a entire career, that reflects every other game and every other day since you committed to come here — all rolled into one. Yes, the word is committed because you chose Notre Dame, and when you did, you committed to laying it all on the line right here and nowhere else.
Maybe it has been better than you ever imagined; for some I know that is true. Perhaps it has been a mixed blessing, as life so often is. But either way, this is your family (even families have squabbles), and this is you — you and Notre Dame will be entwined forever!
It is important to go out on a high note — for the seniors, for each other and because it is the right thing to do. Any off-the-field or sidelines difficulties are totally irrelevent. Five or 10 years from now, no one will remember much, if any, of that. They will simply say: "That was a great game," or "You guys stunk that day." In the Notre Dame spirit, it is much more important to leave zero in your tank at the end of the game than to win the game. But you know that if the first is true, the win will be there.
Everyone — friend or foe — has said of this team: "They play with incredible heart; they will not quit. You can never count them out!" I am a writer, and I wanted to write about this team this year. At first, it was because they might win more than the media expected, but then it was the story of a team with amazing guts and pride; the ones who would not quit! A team of strength, a team of character, a team of fighters to the end "what though the odds be great or small." In other words, despite the record, a truly great Notre Dame team, one worthy to take its place with other great Notre Dame teams this century, who were all part of the greatest collegiate team — unquestionably — of this era.
I still do want to write that of this team because I still believe it to be true, despite the misgivings of some after the Pitt game. I hope that it will be proven in the next two games that you did never quit! But you should not do it for the fans who love you, nor the coaches who have themselves made huge sacrifices, with little to show for it (by Notre Dame standards), but for the seniors and each other.
You have paid dearly with great efforts on and off the field; the students and fans know that. You cannot walk away now; you've spent far too much, and you should collect on that. No, you can't cash in with an National Championship, or even a great record, but you can collect on something more valuable: your HONOR and self-esteem.
Watch "Braveheart" again, and ask yourself the same question: Will you someday wish that you could go back onto the field at Notre Dame and give just the smallest bit more that you held back, so that it could have been a Victory? For your sake, I hope not.
As Knute Rockne once said in a halftime speech, "Look you guys, it's football. You've played this before; you know what to do. Now go out there and just beat 'em!"
John E. Moore
November 17, 1999
All Viewpoint Stories for Friday, November 19, 1999