As you get set to watch a long day of football with friends and family and then eat what is perhaps the greatest meal of all-time, let’s not forget to be thankful for all that we are blessed with. After all, that’s what Thanksgiving Day is all about.
Just keeping it as a sports theme, as a Clemson fan you should be thankful for a lot of things, especially on the gridiron.
Me personally, I’m thankful that I have had the opportunity to cover a national championship football program. It’s one thing to cover a major college football program, which I have been blessed to do for the majority of the my 20-year career as a sportswriter, but it’s another thing to cover a program that is consistently considered a major player in the National Championship race.
I was blessed last year to follow Dabo Swinney and his Tigers as they won the program its first national championship in football in 35 years. I’m also thankful to Robert MacRae (my boss) and The Clemson Insider for giving me that opportunity.
I’m thankful I got the opportunity to go New York and cover a Heisman Trophy ceremony. I’m thankful I got the opportunity to go to the White House and watch as the President of the United States addressed the Clemson team and Coach Swinney for a job well done, while sitting on the White House lawn.
I’m thankful for this season as well, as Clemson sits No. 3 in the latest College Football Playoff Rankings. The Tigers are two wins away from giving me another opportunity to cover a third straight national semifinal game and possibly a third straight national championship game.
I’m thankful that I get to cover a third straight ACC Championship Game in football a week from Saturday, and the fifth overall. These are always fun games to cover and covering three from the winning side has made it better.
I’m thankful that Saturday will be my 14th Clemson-Carolina game I have covered as a journalist, and the 21st I have attended overall.
I grew up watching this rivalry and looked forward to it every year. It’s one of the best rivalries in college football, and I’m thankful that I have been able to hear, watch or see in person every single one of them since I was 9 years old.
I’m thankful I have gotten to know and interview some of the personalities that have made this rivalry so special over the years, guys like Danny Ford, Perry Tuttle, Jeff Davis, Homer Jordan, Cliff Austin, Chuck McSwain, David Treadwell, Levon Kirkland, Bennie Cunningham, James Trapp, Brian Dawkins, Chris Gardocki, Kyle Young, Charlie Whitehurst, William Perry, Michael Dean Perry, Nelson Welch, Charlie Bussey, Tommy Bowden, Red Parker, Deshaun Watson, Mike Williams, Ben Boulware and of course Dabo Swinney.
I’m also thankful for the relationships I have been able to build with the folks at Clemson, such as Hall of Fame Sports Information Director Tim Bourret, who I idolized growing up and who, unknowingly, played a big role in why I became a sportswriter in the first place.
I’m thankful to get to know a man like George Bennett, whose undying love for Clemson athletics is like no one else I will ever meet.
I’m thankful I got to know Terry Don Phillips, a great man who knows how to lead and recognizes true talent and character in his coaches.
I’m thankful I got to know and cover a legend like Jack Leggett. He is the only coach I have ever been around that was beloved and was friends with every coach in the athletic department. He knew them all as well as their families.
Leggett is as genuine as it gets and he loves Clemson, the Clemson people and Clemson athletics like no one else.
I’m thankful for Brad Brownell, who has always been open with me and has allowed me to do my job the best way I can. Despite him being a Cincinnati Bengals fan, he always allows me access to his team and coaches and never turns down an interview request. He is one of the best in the basketball business without a doubt and does his job the right way.
I’m thankful for my relationships at Clemson with guys I consider good friends in Sam Blackman, one of the best historians on Clemson sports and Clemson football as anyone. Brian Hennessy, who will forget more baseball than I will ever know and does as good of job as any in the business, and Phil Sikes, whose passion for Clemson sports and love for Clemson basketball is like no one else.
These are the things, the people and the relationships I’m thankful for as well as the countless others players and coaches and administrators behind the scenes that I just don’t have enough space to get in. I’m also thankful for a whole lot more, but that’s not sports related and I don’t want to bore you anymore then I already have.