Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Monday, November 14, 2011

Character Measured in Towels

Trent Richardson is the best running back in college football. People who know more than I do about the game say that's true. (Even if this was only my opinion, I could say it here because this is my blog and soapbox/ego trip.)

There's a lot of talk about Richardson's triple digits yards rushing, the touchdowns he scores, and how he can move an entire pile of opposing defensive linemen before being brought down. Those things are enough to make him special in the world of football, but nobody talks much about his character.

In a world where spoiled rotten brats who believe their own press often reign supreme, it is heartening to see a man of such moral fiber succeed. Though he came from less than ideal circumstances and fathered two children while still in high school, he has committed himself to building a bright future for his children. He has a 3.26 GPA in business and his work ethic is legend among his teammates. They say he works every day like he is trying to earn a spot on the team. What's more, last summer when it became clear to that his younger brother needed guidance, Richardson brought the high school student to live with him. By all accounts the young man is doing well.

While these things are more valuable than any action on any football field, I saw his character in action on the sidelines near the end of the Alabama-Mississippi State game.

Richardson's backup, Eddie Lacy, who has had his share of the spotlight, ran for a 32 yard touchdown—his second of the day. Afterward, Richardson ran to him and wiped his face with a towel, smiling with unmistakable joy.

I don't believe he was thinking of Heisman trophies, or the statistics that Lacy had just piled up that might have been his own. I think he was celebrating the accomplishment of a fellow teammate. And that makes all the difference in a good player and a great one.

How do you define character?


  1. Character is so much more important than money or popularity or even talent. I get so irritated at people who don't seem to "get" this. Thanks for the post, Jean! And it applies to our "heroes" in our novels. I have read one too many YA romance novels in which the "hero" is so NOT heroic, is shallow, and has no character. Grrrr!!! And let's take politicians for instance. Okay, no, let's not. Because looking for character in politicians might take so long, I'd lose all my writing time for the day.

    Yeah, character is all-important.

  2. I read somewhere that character is how you behave when no one is looking. For me, that sums it up quite nicely.

    I had no idea who Trent Richardson was until I read your post. I don't follow any college's football team closely. But this young man sounds like he has a good head on his shoulders and understands (unlike many Penn State fans) that football isn't everything.

  3. I'm with PM. I have no idea who's in what jersey as I'm more apt to know who's in car #48 (Jimmie Johnson).

    Often it's the small things a hero does that show their character. Such as on the TV series, THE WALKING DEAD. Daryl brings a flower to the mother who's daughter is missing. Though brought up harshly by his bigot brother, he's kind more often than not. Love that layering.

  4. Well, that "whose" not "who's," but you get the idea. :-)

  5. I think today's generation often gets critized for being selfish and that may be true for many of them but every day in my classroom I see a student who has next to nothing share with another student who had nothing.

    Character, in my opinion, is standing up for what is right even when it is difficult to do.

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  7. Melanie--I know what you mean. Cute and charismatic will only take you so far.

    PM--It always astounds me when I see someone who has had few advantages choose to rise to the top in the ways that are most important. That doesn't mean that I think all in those circumstances can do that without help. It makes me ashamed that I don't do more for people.

    Carla--Oh, so often the little things are what illustrate character--like the giving of a flower and in my illustration. For those of you who don't know much about football, star division one players who are in contention for the Heisman do not go around wiping faces--sometimes not even their own.

    Stephanie--I heard once, "Your convictions are only worth something if you adhere to them when it's inconvenient."

  8. It's always a joy to watch character in action. And, in this day and time, even better when the example is set for everyone to see via the media, in sports or any other event, like say the Olympics. As a society we sure have gotten far from heralding the triumphant individuals who struggle and keep their moral integrity. As with current media events, every kind of character is belittled, whether that is in politics, sports, or any other venue, even within the church!

    Why do we allow this to continue? Because, as a whole, the one thing anyone remembers will not be the beautiful smile given by your neighbor, but the time he cut your tree down. People are beaten so low half the time that they want to see that there are others out there getting their due. You can go back to the Roman era when crowds spectated gladiator sports, watching and cheering as men were killed before their eyes.

    Good things to ponder.

    Thanks for introducing us to Trent Richardson. He's not a man given to searching for accolades, but a team player, a man who accepts responsibility and commits to it, and a man with the moral character encouraging others to succeed.