Even die-hard LSU fans will have to agree there’s something special about former University of Alabama star running back Glen Coffee. It’s a story that occurs infrequently and Your Humble Observer (a Razorbacks fan, by the way) believes folks should be told.
Star athletes who are good enough to advance to the next level too often are seen as individuals who receive special treatment and these sports figures believe it’s only right that they are treated differently. Far too many of these individuals display “It’s my world and you’re lucky to be in it with me” and “Get all I can get; take, take, take” attitudes. To them, there’s a separate set of rules.
But occasionally a Pat Tillman appears. Certainly you remember the former Arizona Cardinals NFL’er who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2002, shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on American soil. Tillman turned his back on a $3.6 million contract to volunteer for Ranger training.
Tillman, tragically, was killed in action (friendly fire) in Afghanistan in 2004. His decision to give rather than take resulted in the ultimate sacrifice. Undoubtedly, it was a possibility Tillman accepted when he opted to serve his country rather than continue to live the dream as a professional athlete.
And now along comes Coffee. The former 2009 third-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers retired from football after one season and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He recently graduated from Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and now has set his sights on becoming a member of the Army’s Special Forces.
Coffee had a promising professional career. He rushed for more than 1,300 yards for Alabama and entered the NFL draft after that very successful junior season. Later, he would tell friends he regretted leaving college for the draft. He has also said he found Christ in college, another reason his view on life changed to one of service through serving.
In an interview, Coffee said he has always considered himself a warrior; someone who stands ready to fight for what he believes in.
“It hit me like, ‘What do you think the military does and what do you think the military is full of?’ All of a sudden, I had this respect for the military and I just realized that there is no America without the men and women who serve this country.
“I figured that if I’m able, the Lord’s blessed me with an able body while I’m young, to get out there and get dirty,” Coffee said.
YHO is more than proud to know that individuals like Coffee still believe there’s an America worth serving for reasons beyond money and power. As long as there are people who think giving to their country is more important than taking from it all they can get their hands on, we have a future.
Thank God for Glen Coffee and all those like him. And thank God for more than two centuries worth of Pat Tillmans whose ultimate sacrifice has preserved the freedom we take for granted.
Pat Culverhouse is a journalist and political columnist who lives in Minden. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.