Thanksgiving has always been a time that we can take a break from our daily routines and reflect on the things in our lives that mean the most to us.
I have lots to be thankful for and I try to remember that throughout the year, not just during Thanksgiving. As a sports fan, I’m thankful for the Aztecs, Coach Rocky Long, and Rashaad Penny.
Being a football fan in San Diego has its challenges, this year in particular. The worst ownership group in the history of the National Football League chose to abandon their home and fans of fifty-plus years for the lure of the second-largest television market in the United States and the benefits that a market that size could bring. Left behind were hundreds of thousands of dedicated fans pondering what football in San Diego would be like without the NFL.
Thankfully, San Diego State was ready to fill that void. I didn’t have very high expectations this year. Gone were Donnell Pumphrey, DeMonte Kazee, Calvin Munson, and Nico Siragusa. The team was starting freshmen in key positions on the offensive line and I didn’t have a good feeling about the offense as a whole other than Penny. To say I was dreading this football season would be an understatement.
However, I couldn’t have been more happy with the way the season has progressed to date. The departure of the Chargers left me bitter, but I was still following them. I just couldn’t cut ties with the team I’ve been rooting for since the 70’s.
At first, I took pleasure in watching them fail in typical Charger fashion. It didn’t hurt like in years past. I no longer had to go to work the next day and try to defend them. I took solace in that. That was something to be thankful for. It didn’t fill my needs as a football fan though.
Thank you Coach Long for being the mentor and leader that this university and community needs. He was overdue for a contract extension and pay raise. Coming off back to back Mountain West Football Championships, he earned it and was offered that extension and increase in pay. He signed that extension, and we look forward to seeing him on the sidelines for years to come, and he did it without an increase in pay. It was offered, but he didn’t take it. Instead, he wanted the university to split up his pay raise among his coaches. Putting those who work for him ahead of himself speaks volumes to the type of person he is, and more importantly, the type of leader he is. That’s leadership! Who wouldn’t want to work for someone like Rocky Long?
Thank you Rashaad Penny for being the star the community needed to fill the absence of the departure of Pumphrey. You have provided so many exciting moments for us this year and we love you for it. You will always have a place in Aztec history alongside past greats like Pumphrey, Ronnie Hillman, and Marshall Faulk. I wish the rest of the nation appreciated your talent like we do, but that’s a topic for another article. Today we are thankful for you and that you play for us. I look forward to seeing what the future has for you, and we will all be rooting for you.
The Aztecs have been a saving grace for San Diego football fans this year. Thank you for a great year. Let’s get this tenth win this weekend and dominate whichever bowl game you’re in. I look forward to seeing where this program is headed. The future is bright for this team, and I know we won’t be disappointed.