April’s Notre Dame Spring Blue-Gold game was the 30th I have worked and about the 40th I have attended, and still there was a first. It was the first time I have ever heard a player booed at the spring game, which is no more than a glorified scrimmage. The player was quarterback Tommy Rees. I couldn’t believe it, but maybe if I had spent a little more time on line reading various Notre Dame fan forums I could have easily believed it. Then again I would rather have a root canal than spend a lot of time on line reading fan forums, because some of these people are not exactly real fans. They are either overly-possessed about Notre Dame football or, in a minority of cases, hate anything and everything Notre Dame.
I bring all of this up several days after Rees was arrested at an off campus party. I will not comment on that for now since the system needs to play out on three levels: the law, Notre Dame’s internal policy for students, and his status with the football team. I do have a lot of questions, but I trust those will be answered during those three processes.
I have written here before several times on the dangers of allowing people to just vent their spleens on line following news stories. The Internet has given some of them the “cover” to say whatever they want, with little or no editorial control in place.
After the Rees story broke, and for several days after, some of the on line comments were just downright mean-spirited. It has become pretty easy for me to identify those who just plain don’t like Notre Dame, which, by the way, is their right. But what troubles me are the alleged Notre Dame fans posting their total contempt for Rees, and that has nothing to do with his arrest but everything to do with the fact that they do not want him to be the starting quarterback. The very same guy who many fans thought was the savior to be of Fighting Irish football is now public enemy number one. To them the starting QB is named Anybody But Tommy. Some of these “fans” are so over the top that if Rees cured cancer and won the Nobel Peace Prize but threw an interception in between, they would still vilify him. Truth be told, a lot of “fans” are cheering the arrest because now there is a better chance that Anybody But Tommy will be the starting QB.
Of course if ABT is the quarterback and screws up, look out because he will be tossed on the Internet junk pile.
I am not a Notre Dame Football insider. I never go to practice and don’t know a single coach (I met Brian Kelly once for about ten seconds), but I do know a number of players because I work on campus a few days a week during the school year. After the spring game and before the arrest I was chatting with some of the upper classmen about the quarterback situation, and to a man they said that during spring practice Rees performed the best and had the better grasp, by far, of the offensive system. Of course that is no guarantee of success during the regular season. Joe Montana had a reputation of often being lousy during practice but he seemed to turn out okay on game days.
My point is that football is a game; life is not. Right now Tommy Rees is learning a lot about life in the real world. But some of these people who seem to be reveling in his personal situation should really get a life.