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In honor of a great and loyal Dawg

POSTED: November 27, 2013 2:56 a.m.

I know much has already been said about this subject and that I am rather late to the party, but I feel like I would be doing this great athlete a disservice if I did not at least attempt to put into words my own appreciation for the great Aaron Murray.

I was in my last semester at UGA when Murray started, fresh off the relative disappointment of Joe Cox’s outing as quarterback, of course following the dearly-draft-departed Stafford’s three years of middling success.

In that first year, we knew we had a special player when he nearly broke every single-season record for a UGA passer. However, those records came without wins, so we were left wanting more. The nascent voices started calling for change, as they always do, and people already doubted this young freshman would get any better. How could he? He threw for over 3,000 yards! You don’t improve on that.

But he did.

Murray’s sophomore year started ugly, with losses to Boise and South Carolina, but the next ten games were a sight to behold. After beating Tennessee, Florida and Auburn for the first time in one season since 1982, with a little help from our friends at South Carolina, Georgia was finally going back to the SEC Championship…against top-ranked LSU.

Alas, the SEC Championship game started prettily enough, but it got ugly fast in the second half.

However, no one will ever forget the ride that Murray took us on in 2012, coming within yards…yards of a National Championship appearance, the first one since 1982 (that year keeps coming back, huh?), and then agreeing to return to give his team one more shot.

Although this season has not gone at all like we expected, without even appearing in the SEC Championship game for the first time in a few years, we cannot take for granted what Murray has done. I was telling a friend of mine the other day that we have grown too accustomed to great quarterbacks.

David Green was a light in the dark after years of a strange QB carousel that saw various running backs or wide receivers even take shots behind center, although they were respectably talented. DJ shocked the world by taking the 2005 team to the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl, when we were probably picked third or fourth in the SEC that year.

With such an astounding list of forebears, we have been spoiled. We are undoubtedly spoiled as fans, having seen greats with names deserving of hushed admiration, so I think we have forgotten just how pleasant things have been with Murray.

On the field, he is our leader. Off the field, he is our leader.

I still have quite a few friends on-campus at UGA, and it was special seeing many of them celebrate their last game in Sanford Stadium as students. We beat Tech for my last student game, and I remember very well how exciting that was.

For them, they got to share that day with one of the most extraordinary individuals in college football, as Aaron Murray celebrated his last time teeing it up between the hedges, as well.

Sadly, though, it was likely his last time teeing it up in college at all, as a gruesome injury benched the four-year starter in dismal fashion. I fully believe that one reason Aaron Murray came back to college instead of progressing to the NFL was because he wanted that special moment, entering and exiting Sanford for his last student appearance.

He will be remembered and invited back time and time again, for sure, and we’ll see his face on the big screen in Sanford with a reminder of how extraordinary his feats were, but there is no replacement for what should have been his triumphant departure.

As he was carried off the field after his last college pass, an interception no less, a special era of Georgia football came to end.

Aaron Murray is no god. He bleeds like the rest of us. He is no great hero. He made his mistakes.

He is, however, a very good Dawg, and he deserves every ounce of respect and admiration that comes with the title of Georgia quarterback. I’m glad that people are standing up for Murray now and honoring him properly, because he deserves it. Either way, we should take the time to remember him now, because we will miss him before long.

Maybe not next year with Mason, maybe not the year after, but one day, when a new #11 steps on the field and plays receiver or defensive back or is, heaven forbid, another quarterback, we’ll look back and say, "Man. Do you remember that last guy to wear #11? Aaron Murray? He was something else."

My wife and I have been oddly fixated on the Counting Crows cover "Big Yellow Taxi" over the last few days, and after enjoying the lead singer’s glorious hair, we sang the words together.

"Now don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone."

We may not appreciate all that Murray did right now, surrounded by a bevy of great quarterbacks before him, but we will one day.

And when that time comes, I want to be in that line saying, "Thank you. Thank you for making me a very happy Georgia alum, even when times were rough, because you were a guy worth standing behind. Thank you."

Thank you, Murray. I wish you could’ve been at the helm this Saturday to get your fourth straight win over Tech, but it’s okay. The rest of the team will take care of that for you.



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