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Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Baton Rouge, Louisiana



 After his team soundly trounced arch rival LSU in the BCS Championship game this week, Alabama Coach Nick Saban took the podium to comment on his team’s huge victory.  The press was no doubt looking for nuggets of quotes on the dominant performance of the Alabama defense, or the breakout play of his quarterback.  But instead, he talked about a movie called Red Tails.

Red Tails is a World War II action movie about America’s first all black aerial combat unit, produced by legendary director George Lucas (Star Wars), to be released next week.  Coach Saban was able to arrange a private showing for his team the night before its big game.

At his post game conference, the coach told the press why the movie was important to his team’s victory.  “We went to see the movie Red Tails last night, which I would recommend to anybody. But, you know, those guys’ motto was ‘to the last plane, the bullet, the last man, the minute we fight and we always stay with the mission.’ And I think that kind of described the spirit of that group extremely well, but it also describes the spirit of, you know, the group of players that we have on our team this year.”

Stay with the mission.  And the Crimson Tide certainly did just that as they both outhit and outwitted LSU, time and time again.  It was obvious that Saban learned from the mistakes made in the first meeting of the two perennial rivals.  Saban went on to say that he knew LSU had a weak passing game and would run the ball up the middle.  So he adapted.

Saban also knew LSU would expect an Alabama offense that emphasized the running game.  So he passed much more.  This team, that didn’t normally pass much, regularly threw on first down.  His team made no penalties.  None.  Alabama was focused and disciplined — definitely a team on a mission.

LSU seemed stagnant, tired, unfocused.  They also looked puzzled, maybe even a little shocked at how aggressively and forcefully their opponents came at them.

Hey, they were No. 1.  Both the Tiger coach and key players had traveled the country in recent weeks, picking up numerous awards.  Coach Les Miles was named the Coach of the Year.  Shouldn’t there be a little respect?  Alabama could have cared less, and proceeded to manhandle LSU throughout the game.  The Tigers had let all the hype go to their heads, and this left them vulnerable to a team on a mission.

Football and politics — there’s an analogy here. Nick Saban seems to share some common ground with Republican front runner Mitt Romney.  At least when it comes to focusing on a game plan.  The day after Saban’s team won the National championship, Romney swept the New Hampshire Republican primary.  He is two for two following his initial victory in Iowa, and he is presently leading the polls in next week’s South Carolina primary.

Romney has learned some lessons from his primary defeat four years ago. Despite a barrage of attacks from his opponents over the past few weeks, he has stuck to what he feels will be a winning strategy.  He is the steady candidate in the debates, and rarely veers from his focus on the economy, job creation, and national defense. The various candidates who were “flavor of the month” have come and gone, with Romney continuing to stay in the lead.  He hasn’t and will not dodge any primaries as John Huntsman did in Iowa.  “You’ve got to show up to play,” Romney tells the crowds.

I don’t know if Mitt Romney has seen, “Red Tails.”Â  He says he’s a movie buff, so I assume he will.  But whether he does or not, he’s going to win the Republican nomination for president for one major reason ““ he’s the most committed candidate.  I don’t agree with all of his positions.  But he makes sense in talking about the economic plight in our country today, and seems committed to working across party lines.  Our country is deeply divided and much of the division is caused by the lack of any cooperative spirit on the part of both political parties in Washington.  Neither the Demo don’ts nor the Republican cant’s have served America well.  Instead of polarizer, a consensus builder is needed.  Romney, to the chagrin of the far left and far right, fits that description.

In both football and politics, making it more than just a game or an election can decide the outcome.  Nick Saban went on a mission following his team’s defeat earlier in the year.  Mitt Romney is on his quest as he sets his goals in the coming primaries.

President John Kennedy often quoted poets who wrote about the importance of being on a mission in the quest of enlarging the human spirit. He also concluded, “If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live.”

Yes, politicians and even football coaches could learn a thing or two from poets who talk about a specific mission in life. I’m not sure the Nicks and the Mitts of the world read much poetry. But they both are on a mission to be the best at what they do, and to win.  Sabin is there.  He has reached his goal.  Romney has a way to go, but he seems on the right track. To them, it’s more than just a game or an election.  Having a mission is part of an ingredient that breeds success. And in that formula, there is a lesson for all of us.


Well, in that case… I’d say, “This is an excellent mission, sir, with an extremely valuable objective, sir, worthy of my best efforts, sir.”

Saving Private Ryan

 Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers and websites throughout the South.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at www.jimbrownla.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownla.com.






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