Alabama coach Nick Saban has been instrumental in the recovery, partly through his charitable foundation called “Nick’s Kids Fund,” which has worked with Habitat for Humanity to build homes to replace those destroyed by the tornadoes. Country music singers Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift are among the people who have contributed to the fund, while current and former Alabama players have pitched in to help however needed.
“We can’t just be a team on Saturday. We have to be a team in the worst of times,” Saban said early in the season. “I was really pleased at how our players did a lot to support and help the community.”
Across the state, fans of rival Auburn University, which was not hit by the tornadoes, contributed money through a Facebook page called “Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa” (Toomer’s Corner has been a traditional gathering place for Auburn fans after victories). Auburn coach Gene Chizik declared solidarity with the Tide, stating emphatically, “It’s not about an Alabama or an Auburn thing. It’s the state that has been devastated. This is real life.”
True, but often when life is at its worst, is when people need diversions the most. The New York Yankees provided that following 9/11, as did LSU and the New Orleans Saints after Hurricane Katrina. Teams have a way of uniting a community. And as Tuscaloosa and the rest of the state tried to pick up the pieces of lives splintered by the tornadoes, cheering for the Crimson Tide became a way for people to come together.
A football team can do only so much. Many lives were lost on April 27 and countless others altered forever. Small Alabama towns such as Pleasant Grove and Phil Campbell were practically blown away. Numerous businesses along busy 15th Street in Tuscaloosa were wiped out in a matter of seconds. A single day created a lifetime of change for the state.
But the one constant remains the Alabama Crimson Tide football team. They have been raising national championship banners in Tuscaloosa for nearly 90 years, and on Monday they will try to add yet another to the collection,
And in the process, as Richardson said, they will attempt to bring joy back to the state.
The Fighting Irish have a promising future based on coaching, current talent, recruiting, title path, and program power.
CFT: Johnny Manziel nearly transferred out of Texas A&M before the 2012 season after being suspended, according to reports, but he stayed after his successful appeal.
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