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Guest Columnist: Is Alabama Football Ready to Do Whatever It Takes to Keep Me Chalked Up?

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By Tony Basco, Motivational Speaker.
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Thank you, Coach Saban, you ruthless bastard! Ha ha. Just kidding, kids. Don't swear.

It's great to be here in Tuscaloosa, with apologies to Randy Newman, the greatest city in Alabam! All right!

Hey, let me tell you guys a story. It's a story about a man whose future didn't look very bright. A man who made a decision to move his life in a different direction, and it didn't work out as well as he'd hoped. And he woke up one day at 3:47 in the afternoon in his efficiency apartment next to the pawn shop and found himself at rock bottom. Do you know what rock bottom feels like, Antoine Caldwell? I'm not sure you do. It's that feeling that's lower than last place in the SEC West. Like you can't get any lower. Like you can't count on any of your family, because you didn't go into the catfish farm business. It's a feeling that you can't count any of your friends from that craps game behind the skating rink because you lost their ill-gotten money in pornographic postcard futures – as if anybody could have seen the Internet coming in 1998. It's when you have no job, no education, no bank account. When you have every reason in the world to quit. The competition is too tough. You wake up and want to shout, 'You won, world! You got me!'

Then, one night, when times were at their darkest, this man made a decision. He looked up from the grime and daily insecurity of his existence and he said, "No." That's all. He looked the world in the eye and said, "Not me. Not yet." Because he knew, deep down, he had everything within him, Nikita Stover. He had everything he needed to succeed, Lorenzo Washington, if he could only channel it and focus his mind on his goals. And I'm here today to tell you: when you get knocked down, Will Oakley, when that guy across from you seems a little too strong, Marlon Davis, when he's a step too fast, Kareem Jackson, that's when you have to ask yourself, "How am I going to respond?" That's when you have to look him in the eye, John Parker Wilson, the way that man looked the world in the eye, and say, "Not me. Not today." Refuse to accept defeat, and you can never be defeated.

Let me tell you another story: I am looking to buy premium cocaine.

You see, in order to have the energy to meet his goals, that man developed certain unsavory habits. At first, he thought of it as a problem, only a temporary problem, then a kind of big problem, but as it turns out, over time, his goals have changed. And now it's not a problem at all. I mean, those goals have completely changed, in fact, in ways he could have never predicted, even though his few remaining friends warned him on a near-daily basis.

But what those workaday cubicle slaves never understood was the critical importance of sacrifice. To meet your goals, you must sacrifice, your time, your family, your health, whatever it takes. Now, I know what you're thinking, Andre Smith. You're thinking, "Hey, dude, I've read my Ayn Rand. Self-sacrifice is nothing but a collectivist abdication of my moral duty as a sentient individual who prizes his life to seek values in accordance with my self-interest." True enough.

But think about your self-interest, Jimmy Johns. You've been moved to linebacker, haven't you? Is that the goal you set for yourself when you signed on to play for Mike Shula? You were a running back weren't you? With the values and skills of a running back. A damn fine, strong running back, fast, cut and strapping, highly unlikely to be confronted by airport security. A workhorse, a mule, if you will. You've sacrificed your goal for the collective good, and what do you get in return? A spot behind a guy with a heart condition. As it is, your self-interest – your goal, not that it's in your hands – is that Ezekial Knight keels over on the field like Dick Cheney.

Does that sound like teamwork? Unity? One heartbeat? I mean, yeah, literally, one heartbeat in Ezekial's case, but metaphorically, like one heartbeat coursing through the team like that sweet Guadalajaran Dandruff races to my rapidly disintegrating neurons?

On the other hand, Jimmy, what if I told you that by tomorrow you could be part of a team, a real team, where there is no second-string? Where everyone counts on his teammates – often men and women he will never meet, or whose existence he will even be aware of – to reach his individual goals, which may include up to 6.5 percent commission if he clears customs with the package intact?

Does that sound like something you'd be interested in?

Look, men, football is a game. It's a lot of fun, and teaches you a lot of important life skills. But in The Game, everyone is a contributor. Even you, Alex Jackson. Your teammates share your goals, but your sacrifices pay off for you, not them. And when you score, it makes a touchdown seem like a puff on a cigarette. A light cigarette. 

This team is close. It's right on the cusp. I've been reading about you guys: disorderly conductpublic intoxicationfirst degree robbery. It's clear the talent is here, the desire is here. Some of you have the focus. But you lack that one little element you need to get across that mental barrier, to make that final push to the top. And that element is the consistent distribution of top notch Bogotan Sugar to willing white-collar customers such as myself. When I look out across this room, I see a group of young men ready to take that final step.

Are you ready to make a commitment? Are you ready to do what it takes to turn this thing around? Do you have it in you to keep me sky high at a slight profit and only quasi-significant risk to your safety and freedom? Is it in you?! 

Wait, wait, don't shout. Be cool. Just show up at the skating rink at close Wednesday and ask for the size 16s. And never stop believing!

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Tony Basco is a motivational speaker available for sports teams, small business, and large conventions. Check required in advance; presence not guaranteed.