By Lee James, Class of 1974
I was there. Every Saturday from September to December I was glued to my TV, mesmerized by the magic. And what a Cinderella season it was! Each week’s heroics were more exhilarating than the last. The Bears’ composure and persistence in the face of adversity called to my highest aspiration, encouraging me to emulate the mental and physical toughness and tenacity I was privileged to observe. I could almost feel the grass beneath my shoes and the hot breath of the opposing linemen in my face. Our unflappable hero led us to our goal time and again with a marksman’s accuracy, a general’s leadership, a Bolshoi dancer’s grace and the calm composure of a 1969 Broadway Joe. With a mighty flick of athletic poetry he launched the pigskin ellipsoid into the end zone via the ozone with magnificent perfection, igniting an electric moment that was 10 to 1 for another Bear 6. Snubbing the phone booth for a mighty whirl he continually eluded Lex Luthor’s clutch and raced through the stripes with the Mercurial speed of a gold soled Olympian. Turf pounding blows were instantly followed by reflexive jack-in-the-box pop ups and trademark slinky rolls. Post-game interviews displayed heartwarming and heart winning smiles that endeared him to hard core and casual observers from Times Square to LA. All America soon appreciated Baylor Nation’s ill guarded secret.
Thrilling bursts of brilliance and superlative magic moments dissolve into tradition as fall melts into winter; as days dissolve into weeks and years in an unrelenting stream that bears our dreams and memories in its flow. Will the bicentennial class comprehend the significance of the trophy in the case? Will they recall the fall of 2011 as they fight the life size holographic dragons of Mortal Kombat 23 in the Quadrangle or ride solar powered skateboards down 4th Street? Does the class of 2011 remember Coach Teaff and a stuttering quarterback who brought a football phoenix from the ashes and gave us an exhilarating ride through the fall of 37 years past and a short trip up I-35 on New Year’s Day 1975? Do they remember Mike Singletary or Don Trull or Lawrence Elkins?
No matter. Individual accomplishments or flashes of brilliance do not define tradition. It is rather that good old line of green and gold in which you and I are privileged to belong. We are the richer for RG3. We are proud to point to the exemplary excellence that defines our mission, to a young man to whom our sons can look as a pattern for their lives, who glory has not tainted. And RG3 is richer for everyone who has ever moved a tassel in the Heart of Texas or the Ferrell Center, kissed a date goodnight on the steps of Collins or Dawson, or attended a ring ceremony in Waco Hall. He is richer for every parent who has sacrificed so their son or daughter can have a better chance at their dream, for every romance that has flourished under the watchful oaks of Waco Creek, for every alumnus who has written a check. We are RG3. He is us.
Like every parent who has hugged a child goodbye in the Penland or Memorial lobby, we know for everything there is a season. Our prodigies are the first to fly. Superman must leave Krypton. Even Metropolis cannot own him. Our green and gold must be flung. America has fallen in love with our hero, as well they should. But wherever he goes, whatever he does, he belongs to Baylor. As we march forever down the years, we march as one.
I was there this fall. So were you. As RG3 and we are surely different in many ways, we are nevertheless bound by a powerful tradition. I am privileged that we are fellow travelers in The Line.