Almost a year ago by now, with Stephen and Jason and Thomas and the rest of the team, too, there was, I’ve come to think, a very rare convergence of ability and innocence.

The guys on last year’s team were good enough to do what they did. But they were also inexperienced enough and unburdened enough to not quite know what was on the other side.

That was the simple and unspoken and yet somehow tangible bond between the players and the coaches and the people who stopped to watch.

Here we are.

Here. We. Are.

I’m thinking now of those still photos, and maybe you are, too. That’s what everybody saw.

This year, of late in particular, it feels like maybe this team has gotten away from that, and certainly some of the fans have. Maybe it’s human nature. I don’t know.

Earlier this week, I flew though Detroit on the way to Pittsburgh, and when I was walking through the terminal I found myself thinking about a moment from Ford Field that Sunday last March.

During the timeout, with 16.8 seconds left, I was in Row 25 and I turned around and looked a row behind me and saw Tripp Cherry ’99, and he was on the phone, talking to his wife, Carrie ’01, who was back home in Charlotte studying for law school finals.

I couldn’t hear what he was saying, the place was too loud, but I could see the big, wet tears that had pooled in his eyes.

Many months later, over a supper at the Soda Shop, I asked Tripp about that moment. I ended up writing about this in the book.

Tripp said he and Carrie had talked about the play that was about to happen.

He said she told him just before the ball was put in play that she should probably let him go.

And Tripp said into the phone:



The point here is this: There’s a game here at Belk in a minute. There’s a game Monday at Elon. There’s a game Saturday in Chattanooga, then maybe Sunday, then maybe Monday.

To ask March 2009 to be March 2008 is to forget what made March 2008 what it was.

The don’t miss this.

The here we are.

The No. Stay.

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