Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the Super Bowl.
As most readers already know, I’m an Alabama graduate but have been an Alabama fan since... well, you know how it is in the State of Alabama... so, since birth. For most of us, that’s how it is. We are born, assigned either Alabama or Auburn as the college football team we will root for the rest of our lives before getting on to less important things like being given names.
My interest in the NFL has been reignited by a number of factors. We have a hometown guy, Evan McPherson, who (you may have heard) now plays for the Bengals. And there’s no denying that the University of Alabama has been a virtual factory for the NFL in recent years. Almost every pro team has at least one former Alabama player on the roster. Some have several. For UA fans and alumni, it’s made following pro football more interesting in recent years. It’s also arguably made picking which NFL to root for a bit more difficult: should Tide fans remain loyal to whatever NFL allegiances they had already or alternately jump ship to follow a favorite former Tide player as they begin their pro career?
Alabama fans have recently begun flocking to the Philadelphia Eagles, which currently boasts a total of four former Alabama players on their active roster: Landon Dickerson, Josh Jobe, Heisman winner DeVonta Smith and quarterback Jalen Hurts. Those four, and the Eagles decimated the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game last weekend and are now headed to play in Super Bowl LVII. Online celebrations of Hurts being one of the players headed to the big game have ignited a bit of a controversy – does Hurts belong to the Alabama Crimson Tide or to the Oklahoma Sooners?
We all know the story: Hurts played his first three seasons of college football at Alabama, where he was part of the team that won the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, and then used his final year of eligibility at Oklahoma.
Shortly after the Eagles’ NFC title victory last weekend, the articles, posts and memes started popping up on social media about how Hurts is now the fourth former Crimson Tide quarterback to lead an NFL team to the Super Bowl. The others are Bart Starr, Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler. Cue the great online comment section flame war of early 2023, all about how Alabama has no legitimate claim on Hurts considering he actually completed his college career at Oklahoma. Moot point. The issue has actually already been settled by Hurts himself: he claims both. But the debate about which university should or shouldn’t be able to “lay claim” to Hurts ignores his inspiring story as a whole.
February is Black History Month and it’s worth noting that when Jalen Hurts steps onto the field in Glendale, he will face off against Kansas City starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes, marking the first time ever that two African American quarterbacks have started opposite one another in the Super Bowl. The thing is, Jalen Hurts doesn’t care whether we associate him Oklahoma or lay claim that he was “Built By Bama.” He’s too busy building what he has been all along – his own legacy. Ultimately, who gets to claim Jalen Hurts might come down to a simple, one word answer: history.
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