This time last week I had the final play of the Rose Bowl on repeat.
From Scott Howard’s call to Chris Fowler’s call and back again; I couldn’t get enough, despite having seen it live the night before.
I watched the final play of the National Championship once, live, and that is enough.
My slow trod to bed Monday night (check that, Tuesday morning) could be likened to line dancing to Chopin’s “Funeral March.”
When Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa’s pass hit fellow true freshman DeVonta Smith in stride, I went numb.
There was no overt show of emotion, no speaking, no silent crying, I simply stared at the television until I could watch crimson confetti fall no more, got up from my seat, and walked to my resting place (qualifier: for the night).
This time last week I was smiling and tearing up with every replay of Sony Michel’s run into the end zone in Pasadena.
Today, I tear up with every picture shown of Michel and his record-setting Bulldog running mate Nick Chubb sitting side-by-side on the bench in the midst of a celebration not their own.
In looking at those and other images from Georgia’s post-game, however, I found something unexpected: an absence of foreboding.
In years’ past, disappointment seemed the football program’s lot in life. The Bulldogs were good enough at times to get in the game, but not good enough when the game came. Georgia was good enough to start off in the conversation, but wound up not being good enough to stay in the conversation. The talent was rich, but the cultivation of said talent was at times poor.
Bulldog fans hung their hats on hope, knowing deep down it would be vanquished eventually.
The last time Georgia won a national title, I was two months shy of turning 2 years old. I say that to allow for this: I’ve never seen the team I cheer for win a national title and I’m disappointed they didn’t Monday night. However, absent is the idea that my once-in-a-lifetime has come and gone to no avail. Absent is the foreboding feeling that disappointment is Georgia football’s lot in life.
The Bulldogs belonged in that game and on that stage Monday night, and regardless of what Kirby Smart says - or doesn’t, as it were - they belonged in that game and on that stage well ahead of schedule.
For years to come, the 2017 Georgia football seniors will be looked at as the class that started a renaissance, and should be heralded as such. This class, though, wasn’t supposed to take Georgia where it went, but rather clear a path through leadership, work ethic and buy-in so that those who followed could.
I am disappointed that, in spite of everything those seniors gave, a national title couldn’t be given back. I am disappointed that I won’t get to see Michel and Chubb, Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter, Isaiah Wynn and Javon Wims represent in the red and black anymore because they did it so well.
This senior class has been through a lot, including coaching changes and the lambasting that comes with a fanbase tired of the inevitable. This senior class lost another big game Monday night, one of many over the last four years. This senior class couldn’t “finish the drill,” and bring to Athens the football program’s first title in 37 years. But what this senior class did may prove to be greater: they “kept chopping,” “kept the main thing the main thing,” and in doing so vanquished simple hope, turning it instead to a solid belief, and showed Georgia fans that disappointment is no longer the football program’s lot in life.