We read and hear so much about the sad stories in college football. Tyrann Mathieu, Mike Dyer, Isaiah Crowell and Ray Ray Armstrong are just four examples of young men who had opportunities to change the dynamics of their families for generations to come and couldn't deal with the demons within.
Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com had an interesting piece today about synthetic marijuana - much, much worse and more dangerous than the real thing - and the havoc it is wreaking in college football.
It all makes me sad. But then I think about the other stories, the ones that don't make the front pages of national web sites, the stories of college athletes who come from difficult circumstances and grasp the opportunity.
I think of Bo Jackson, who grew up about as tough as anyone you can imagine. He has used his phenomenal talent and the fame that came with it to do good things and help people. His children and their children and their children's children will reap the benefits.
On a remarkable day, Jackson was the featured speaker at Auburn graduation ceremonies in 2009.
I think of former Auburn basketball star Marquis Daniels, who barely graduated from high school and probably wouldn't have qualified under today's standards. He graduated in 3 1/2 years, plays still in the NBA, has lived his life the right way, taken care of his money and changed the direction of so many lives to come.
I think of former Auburn defensive end Reggie Torbor, who will tell you he arrived at Auburn with a chip on his shoulder and little trust for anybody. It was his Auburn experience, Torbor says, that changed him.
I think of former wide receiver Frank Sanders, who literally grew up on his own on the streets of Fort Lauderdale, almost was kicked off the Auburn team, became a star, had a long and successful NFL career and became a living, breathing example of faith and good works.
I think of Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams, who not only have lived their lives the right way but have been there for former teammates who found themselves in trouble.
I think of Cam Newton going to visit elementary school students, and going back to see them when he returned to campus. I think of current Auburn football players who have, in just the past year, volunteered their time at Loachapoka Elementary, Drake Middle School, Yarbrough Elementary, Auburn Early Education Center, Jacobs Ladder Day Care, Ogletree Elementary and the local Head Start, just to name a few.
I could go on and on. I could do the same for players and former players at Alabama, Georgia or almost any other school.
The guys who don't do it right get most of the attention. But the great majority who go to class and use their popularity and even fame to do good things are the ones who make it all worthwhile.
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