No man is an island unto himself.
Yes, there are times when the human spirit reaches deep within itself and gives us the wherewithal to do something so singular and remarkable that all of the world sits up and takes notice. The names of the honored can be found written in our books of history, and their deeds are rehearsed in the revered tones reserved for legends.
For most of us, that occasion to set ourselves apart from the masses that surround us never happens. We are the Everyday Joe’s of the world. We go about our business day-in and day-out. Our names will never make the history books, and no one will ever speak of us in tones of reverence.
The sum total of who we are is the little bits and pieces of those who have crossed our path and invested themselves in us. Life is like a continuous assembly line, and we are actually being built as we live. We add to each other. We are completing each other. We need each other.
Our true value is not found in serving self, but in serving others who walk this same journey that we call life. When we die, part of us remains in those we have touched. It is called influence. When we invest ourselves in another, we add to who they become.
None of us have a neutral effect on those we truly come in contact with. We either add to who they are, or we subtract.
And so, while our deeds may not become legend, and our names will probably never be known outside of our smallish circle of life, we do make a difference. I would rather have my name stamped upon the hearts of my friends that have granted me the privilege to influence them, than to have it etched in a lifeless book that collects dust on a shelf.
That is why I write this article. I write it to my friends here in this College Football Community.
Though I have never spoken with you face to face, I have felt your pulse as you put your heart into your words. We have laughed together. We have argued our points, and then shook our heads that we still disagreed on the rankings. We have confronted each other, and we have defended each other. We have even cried together. That’s what friends do.
As you know, Bleacher Report announced a contest within our College Football Community that was both ambitious and attractive. It changed the dynamics that existed within our close-knit group.
While Picks of the Day are intangible, a trip to the big dance in Miami is not. Real competition was something that we had not dealt with before, and newness always has its kinks that must be worked out.
I will not rehash the controversy that we are all too familiar with by now. Lisa Horne’s article opened the shades so that we could all see the “floaties” that were in the room. I, for one, am grateful that she was willing to say out loud what some were whispering. Issues that are not discussed can never be resolved. She did us well.
If there is to be a finger pointed in all of this, I ask that it be pointed at me. I failed to help us navigate a situation that was unfamiliar to us. I am not a bigwig here on B/R, and I am not a part of the wonderful administration that keeps this place up and running, nor do I wish to be.
But I am a voice, and sometimes leadership needs a common voice to speak up. When I should have been calling us together, I was off standing my ground, even when I was sure that nothing dishonest had been done.
Principles can change into pride without our even recognizing it.
I want to offer my apologies to Justin for suspecting him before I gave him the right to set the record straight. Through our private emails, I have come to know a little bit of who he really is. The truth is that Justin is a man of honesty and integrity.
There could be no better person to represent B/R in Miami, and I would be honored to place behind him in the rankings. He did not cheat, and there is no reason for him to drop out of this contest.
Zander, I have always tried to be the “go back for you” type of guy who wouldn’t let his buddy lie fallen on the field. I sort of walked away from you and let you bleed a bit. My apologies, my friend. I appreciate your leadership, and value your friendship. You are a good and honest man.
This may be too strong of a choice of words for some of you who feel removed because you look into a screen rather than a face, but I have grown to love Justin and Lisa and BT and Mitch and TC and 12 and KG and JC and Michael Cline and Daniel Cox and Bama Chick and Robert and Dawg and all the rest of you with whom I spend a portion of my day.
Maybe it’s because I have been involved in ministry since I was 17 years old, and my life has been intertwined with people from every possible walk of life. Maybe it’s because I’m a Christian and the Book that I hold dear teaches me to love unconditionally. Maybe it’s because I taught high school for 20-plus years, and realized it’s hard to really help someone you’re afraid to love.
I can’t help it—I love y'all. You’ve touched me with your words, and now I am asking you to let me reach you with mine.
Justin and Lisa: I ask you to stay a vital part of B/R and to please come back into the contest. We need you both with us as we continue to grow as a community of friends. I cannot imagine Bleacher Report without the both of you.
Justin, you should be thankful for family and friends who love you enough to come on and read your work. Don’t disappoint them by giving in to suspicions. Please accept our assurance that we know you did nothing wrong. If you win, take plenty of pictures to show the kid one day, and eat a bag of bald peanuts for me.
I was a part of the problem, I am asking you both to be a part of the solution. Please, get back in the contest and keep on writing.
To the rest of you who have watched and commented and asked “What in the flying cat-hair is going on?” Remember that reacting takes no gray matter whatsoever, but in order to respond you have to engage your brain. Mine has been in park for several days now. Sorry about that.
I hope we can move on and enjoy the rest of the football season.
Finally, my thanks to Jared Lilley, a 15-year-old sophomore whose post on my bulletin board helped me clear the fog that had settled in my mind. This 53-year-old man needed the wisdom of a 15-year-old boy to make things clear. Jared, you are a true friend.
BTW, my real name is Dean. My wife calls me Deano. But I think Gray Ghost sounds cool. She refuses to call me Gray Ghost. Ministers don’t often get to be cool. Whatever!
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