Sometimes sports are exhilarating sources of happiness for ones own interest and a community and there are times when the opposite is true, and that is how I felt when I heard the news on Todd Gurely whose season and UGA career is done due to a torn ACL he sustained on Georgia’s win against Auburn. A night of triumph turned melancholy when in the waning moments of a rivalry game that had already been decided on the scoreboard Gurley pulled up lame. It was a non- contact injury. Those are my least favorite because you know its either cramps or something serious. With no word on the cramps in Mark Richt’s post game presser, I awaited the next day for the cruel, cruel news; even as I gloated to my Auburn grad co-workers. Sports has a funny way of being a release for our anxieties, and the root cause.
In a cruel bit of irony on the same day Melvin Gordon, Gurley’s greatest competition as the premiere Running Back in America, set the NCAA Record for most rushing yards in a game. You never know who or what is going to betray you and as the play unfolded I fully expected Gurley to look down quixotically at his legs and exclaim “Et Tu, Crur?”
The news of Marcus Lattimore’s retirement got me thinking about the Running Back postion and its place in football, now this has me pondering even more-so. The RB position is unlike any other in sports. You are literally called on to be a battering ram from age 14 to, if you are the luckiest of the lucky, 29. Even in the NFL, the position has become so devalued that players rarely anymore go in the 1st round of the draft. Careers are questionable short and so are life expectancies.
With this knowledge in tow, wouldn’t it makes sense that a position that is unlike any other in sports be governed by its own set of rules when it comes to draft eligibility? Elite RB’s should be able to leave for the pros the moment a team is ready to call their names. For guys like Adrian Peterson or Leonard Fournette that would have been sometime right after their Senior Prom. I just think that is something interesting to ponder.
As for Gurley, I wish him the best on his recovery and his hopefully long NFL future. He has been one of the favorite parts of my 22 year UGA fandom, yet at the same time incredibly frustrating because as great as he has been you cant help but feel there is a level of greatness he never attained.
What’s crazy is that for the most part the frustration hasn’t been on Gurley himself. When he has the ball he has been spectacular to the point where one day I hope there will be southern folklore written about him. Take the latest SC game for example. In the game, Todd had 131 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, yet on 1st and goal with game hanging in the balance the call wasn’t “Gurley left.”, Gurley right.”, or “Gurley up the gut.”- inexcusable.
30 games, 42 touchdowns, 3,900 yards, countless memories and 1 very large question mark will be the final tallies of Todd Gurley’s UGA career. It started as “Gur-Shall”, a nickname give to the duo of Gurley and his friend and often injured back field mate Keith Marshall“, and ended with Gurley hurdling his way alone in pursuit of greatness attained only by that namesake Mr. Walker.
The gift of hindsight is that we internalize the happiest of memories. The memories on the opposite end of that spectrum, that don’t greatly impact our life traditionally fall by the wayside. I can’t wait to share with my kids and their kids the joy I had watching Todd Gurley run the football for my beloved Bulldogs.
He ran like the wind, with the power of a locomotive. Stood as tall as Paul Bunyan, and as strong as his Blue Ox. He was both humble and kind, giving of his time. He slayed Tigers, drowned Gators and slaughtered Hogs. Let’s hear it for Ol’ Todd. How Bout’ Dem Dawgs!?
1. Yes, “Crur” is the latin word for leg… You’re welcome. Up
2. Harvard did an interesting study on this in 2012. Its an academic PDF so its a little boring, but you can check it out here. Up
3. Maurice Clarett approves of this message. Up
4. I mean gosh just look at his high school highlight tape… unreal. Up
5. The story of Marshall’s injuries and untapped potential is a whole ‘nother can of worms. Up