Thursday night, in the bright lights of Radio City Music Hall in New York City, six young men who played college football in Alabama celebrated with their families when they were chosen in the first round of the NFL draft.
Senior Editor Phillip Marshall
For each of them, it was the realization of a dream that started when they were little boys playing football in the backyard.
Back home in Alabama, the sad and somber search for dead and missing in wake of Wednesday’s horrific outbreak of tornadoes continued.
As players put on the caps of the teams that chose them, an injured Alabama football player mourned the death of his girlfriend.
As the players answered questions on the biggest stage of their lives, the Crimson White, the University of Alabama’s student newspaper, pleaded on Twitter for information on missing students.
As the talking heads on ESPN continued to flog Cam Newton right up until the moment he was made the No. 1 pick by the Carolina Panthers, President Obama declared a federal emergency in Alabama.
The NFL draft matters. For 32 players chosen in the first round and their families, it was certainly a life-changing event. They’ll remember April 28, 2011, for all their lives.
And back home in Alabama, they’ll remember it, too. It was announced that the death toll from Wednesday’s tornadoes had passed 200 and was expected to go higher.
Football will matter again in Alabama. It always does. But even as the draft went on, this day wasn’t about football. It was about coping with unspeakable tragedy.
It was about the tears of those whose loved ones – parents, husbands, wives, children – were taken from them too soon.
May God be with them all.