Every single day a video goes viral. Most times the video is funny or of someone doing something extremely stupid. On Saturday, however, the video that went viral and reached No. 1 on Reddit was neither. It was raw emotion.
On Saturday, the football team finished its last game of the season with a 27-7 win against the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. It was the last time these seniors would play with the Old English “R” on the side of their helmets and for the majority of them the last time they would play a competitive snap of football. What happened on the field Saturday doesn’t even matter compared to what happened after in the postgame press conference.
The Rice Swiss army knife, senior running back Luke Turner, spoke to the media after his final performance, in which he recorded 54 yards rushing and a passing touchdown. Over his four years, Turner has done a little bit of everything for the Owls on offense, playing quarterback, running back and wide receiver. He answered questions about the actual game, and then was asked to reflect on his career at Rice. This is where the 91-second video begins.
Turner starts by thanking Head Coach David Bailiff, and before he is even able to finish his first sentence, he breaks into tears. There is this horrible stereotype that football players are extremely macho and incapable of showing those types of emotions, but what Luke Turner showed me and showed the world is what really matters in sports and especially college athletics. Throw aside the records and the accomplishments; college sports are all about relationships, opportunity, hope and growth. This sport is about taking an 18-year-old kid and turning him into a 22-year-old man. This sport is about letting a kid’s dream become a reality. This sport is about how quickly four or five years can fly by. This sport is about how the people you surround yourself with become your family forever.
At the end of the video, Turner gives the man who gave him a shot a giant embrace. That man is our head football coach, Coach Bailiff. If you have ever met Coach Bailiff, he is a true gentleman who cares more about his players and this university than words can explain. Many times over his tenure at Rice, he has given an overlooked kid a shot. As important as what the student produces on the field, Coach Bailiff sets up higher expectations for them after graduation. He wants them to pay back their scholarship, become a CEO or president, then to make a contribution to Rice that gets their name on a building. And that is what Turner refers to in his comments. He is thankful not just for his opportunity to play football, but for the education he got and the people he met which will allow him to meet those goals in the future.
When I first saw this video Saturday night, I was left numb. My only reaction at first was how proud I was to be associated with the player who said it and with the coach who those words were said about. I couldn’t relate to the feelings Turner was having, but I could relate to showing raw emotion over an important moment in someone’s life.
I applaud Luke Turner as he allowed all of us to take a step back from a disappointing football season and truly appreciate the power of college sports and the type of people we are lucky to have here at Rice.
P.S. If you want to watch the video just search “Luke Turner” on YouTube.