With day after day of attention being paid to the Tiger Woods scandal, Mark Ingram's acceptance speech for winning the Heisman Trophy on Saturday was a welcome respite. It proved, once again, that we do have good men in this country and, yes, even sports stars who understand what is important.
If you missed it, you can watch Ingram's speech HERE.
The man cried openly and thanked his mother and his father (who at that very moment were imprisoned across the Hudson river) for everything they had done for him. He thanked every coach in attendance, but lingered on the intern who helped him most. He thanked his teammates and distinguished the offensive line that made it all possible. Then he personally thanked each of the other nominees.
More than a class act. You cannot fake the big-heartedness of Mark Ingram. Each time he turned from the podium to weep, you could see that he was sincerely struggling to form words at such a moment of triumph. Maybe fame will spoil this man too, just like it did Tiger and so many others. But I would like to believe that it won't.
Charles Barkley was right, athletes shouldn't be role models. We should ask them to be more than human. And we should point in their direction when talking to our kids, most especially our sons. As men and as fathers we have to be their role models. And we can look in our communities for men who live lives of honesty and service. Looking to basketball players, or golfers, or tennis players for examples of morality is fraught with danger.
But every once in a while you do see something on the athletic stage that warms your heart as a dad. When you can bring your son over to the TV and say, "Look, see what that guy is doing? That's what manhood is all about. He is crying because he is humbled by his success and is showing us all that in weakness their is actually great strength."
That's what happened last Saturday. And I admire Mark Ingram greatly for it.