Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Touch of Class - Notre Dame vs. The U.S. Naval Academy

In an era in which the airwaves are saturated with the shenanigans of T.O. and his ilk, it is a breath of fresh air to learn about good old fashioned sportsmanship and class. On two occasions today, I have heard from friends who were present at last Saturday's football game in South Bend between the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and the Midshipmen of Annapolis. Both individuals were effusive in their praise of Notre Dame's graciousness in victory over Navy. I heard about gestures of honor and respect shown to our men and women in uniform, and I learned about what a moving moment it was after the game had ended when Coach Weiss led his team to the Navy bench to join them as the Navy Alma Mater was sung.

Jim Savard is a regular reader of this Blog. Jim was one of those present last Saturday, and he has graciously consented to allow me to share with you the sentiments he wrote to Coach Weiss. As you well know, Charlie Weiss returned to his Alma Mater, Notre Dame, after a distinguished career as the Offensive Coordinator of the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, where he served under head coach, Bill Belichek. I have written earlier in this space about the influence that Annapolis had on Belichek, whose father was part of the Annapolis coaching staff. I know that there are many readers of this Blog that are "Domers," many more that are graduates of the Naval Academy, and even more that are big fans of Belichek and Charlie Weiss. We can all be proud that last Saturday, each of these individuals and the institutions they represent clothed themselves in honor.

Enjoy Jim's tribute to Coach Weiss . . .

James F. Savard
10461 Tiger Run
Littleton, CO 80124
Saturday, November 12, 2005

Coach Charlie Weis
Head Football Coach
University of Notre Dame
Athletic Department C113

Joyce Center
Notre Dame, IN 46556

Dear Coach Weis:

Permit me to thank you for your post-game ethical demeanor and conduct following the recent Navy-Notre Dame football game. Your actions are the indicators of the principles of your soul. Your act of taking your football team to the Navy sideline to honor the playing of my Alma Mater is a true tribute to your team, your fans, you, and the wonderful and honorable institution – Notre Dame.

As a member of the United States Naval Academy’s Class of 1965, I was fortunate to be present at the last Navy victory over Notre Dame. Every year we “leave it out on the field” in our duel with Notre Dame and it is an honor for our team to participate in games against Notre Dame; however, we have been on the losing side of the ledger in the last 42 games. What Notre Dame Students, fans, your team, and you did today was pure class!

Navy will never “Give up the ship;” and by 2016, we will beat Notre Dame. More importantly than a football victory are the principles, class, and elegance that you demonstrated today. Your actions will be inculcated into the psyche of both Notre Dame Students and Naval Academy Midshipmen forever. Respect is not something one talks about, respect is something one shows and does. In Navy vernacular, there is an acronym – BRAVO ZULU (BZ). BRAVO ZULU is hoisted in flags on the super structure when a ship or an individual does an outstanding job.

BRAVO ZULU Charlie Weis -- you are a true professional and a credit to the humanness of God’s creatures!


James F. Savard
USNA, 1965

cc: Father John Jenkins, C.S.C.

1 comment:

Ray Browen said...

It has been said of Joe DiMaggio: “Even when he struck out, he elevated the game.” There seems to have been all too little elevation of the game in sports at all levels in recent years. But on Saturday, Notre Dames’s head football Charlie Weiss coach did just that.

It was no surprise that Notre Dame beat Navy for the 42nd consecutive time. The only surprise was that the score was tied until well into the second quarter. The Midshipmen were predictably outgunned, but, also predictably, not outfought.

As the game ended, the booth announcers sent the TV audience down to the field where Coach Weiss was cornered for one of those irritating and unenlightening quick chats. But the Coach stated that there really was no time to talk, as he needed to proceed down to the corner of Notre Dame stadium where the Navy Team would gather to sing their alma mater, “Navy Blue and Gold.” He then turned his back to the camera and did just that, to the bemusement of his would-be interviewer.

The camera then panned back, and indeed the entire Fighting Irish team was walking to stand alongside their opponents in friendship and respect for what they do each day and what they will do after graduation – which will be in contests much more important than football and much less lucrative than NFL contracts.

Well Done, Coach Weiss. The Patriots’ loss was Notre Dames’s gain.

Raymond J. Brown
Captain, USCG (Ret)