There was a time on Saturday when, if you were in Davis Wade Stadium, no one could blame you for believing — no, knowing — that football was the most important thing in the world. With cowbells in hand, Mississippi State fans screamed until their voices were lost to the November air, hated Alabama with all they had and loved their Bulldogs with even more.
But a simple act Monday made all of that, even a crushing 31-6 loss, feel insignificant.
Mississippi State Athletic Director Scott Stricklin tweeted out a photo of two floral arrangements, with cards attached, expressing sympathy for Mississippi State’s Keith Joseph, Jr., who died Nov. 6 in a car accident. His father, who also played for the Bulldogs, also died.
One had been sent by the Ole Miss football staff and team, the other by Alabama Athletic Director Bill Battle, whose Crimson Tide played the part of the Bulldogs’ enemy so well on Saturday.
— Scott Stricklin (@stricklinMSU) November 16, 2015
In his weekly radio show last week, Alabama coach Nick Saban took a moment to talk about Joseph’s death, and he let the Mississippi State family know the Alabama family held the Josephs in their prayers and hearts. Then he quoted legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant.
“This is the beginning of a new day,” Saban said. “God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good. What I do today is very important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving something in its place I have traded for it. I want it to be gain, not loss — good, not evil. Success, not failure in order that I shall not forget the price I paid for it.”
When Saturday came, there was nothing to suggest that the two football teams cared for each other in the slightest. But it was a quote last week and a gift on Monday that reminded everyone that sometimes the sport takes a backseat to something bigger.