Patton: Life, education are so much greater than football

By MIKE PATTON | Nashville Voice

Playing college football is a blessing. To be able to play the sport you love at the collegiate level in front of tons of fans is truly something to cherish.

Like many other college football players, Christion Abercrombie was enjoying another chance to play the game.

The former University of Illinois linebacker was suiting up for Tennessee State University this season after transferring to the Tigers during the offseason.

At some point in the second quarter, Abercrombie was not feeling well and came out of the game. At that point, he collapsed on the sideline and was administered oxygen.

And as things currently stand, he is in critical condition and fighting for his life.

The game he loves, unfortunately, has given him some pain that he is fighting through, but the overall story along with this life-threatening injury is how Coach Derrick Mason of the Vanderbilt Commodores responded.

When asked about the Abercrombie injury after the game, Mason said, “I know what it is to be a coach. I know what it is to have a player who’s injured. At the end of the day, when serious injuries happen, football becomes secondary.”

Mason, who was coaching TSU’s opponent Saturday, the Vanderbilt Commodores, forgot about his allegiance to coaching his team for a moment. He purposely forgot Abercrombie was playing for the opponent and instead became a human being.

There was a collection of players that gathered at the 50-yard line from both teams that prayed for Abercrombie and his health.

In these instances, you forget that these players are out there trying to win a game while entertaining fans and trying to boost their draft stocks, but they are human beings.

At any point in time, what happened to Abercrombie could have been one of them. They realized that and instead of viewing him as just a teammate or an opponent, they became concerned citizens for his ongoing battle for his health and his life.

So many times, people get caught up in someone being an opponent or adversary that they lose sight that we are only opponents when it comes to a jersey or a team affiliation.

In the end, we are all running the same race together as one.

The young men that strap on the pads every weekend to represent their university are also the same young men that are building towards degrees or representing universities with charitable things they do.

TSU head coach Rod Reed and Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason share a moment following Saturday’s game at Commodore Stadium.

When Mason said football is secondary, he is correct. We are human beings first and foremost and our jobs are to make a difference.

Football is important, but it is not more important than basic human life. The ability to breathe, walk, talk and even smile are things we all take for granted.

Hopefully, for Christion Abercrombie, he will one day be walking, talking and smiling again as he faces a battle for his life.

My prayers go out to him as he battles on and hopefully when he overcomes this battle, we shall see him enjoying life again.

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