Rome has fallen!

It’s our 7th game of the season. We are playing St. Christopher’s School – the wealthiest all boys private school in Richmond, VA. If you are from Cincinnati, think St. Xavier with more money and a southern pink-and-green sensibility whose alumni (as grown men) wear embroidered pants.

We are a public high school with a diverse student body. Some of our boys and their families live in wealthy neighborhoods. Some of our boys and their families live in extended stay hotels.

In many ways, it’s a battle of the haves versus the have-nots. And, given that we are playing at St. Christopher’s (which has better facilities than most colleges and universities) and we have not played St. Christophers since 1958, this game is a big deal.

The boys are pumped.

All week long they are asking me “Hey Coach, do you have your speech ready?”

I had it ready.

Here it is.


Hey boys.

We’ve all heard of the Roman Empire.

At its height, Rome was the center of power and politics, wealth and commerce and cultural importance in the Western world.

The Roman elite enjoyed the best of the best.

Their children enjoyed the best of the best.

Boys, look around you…welcome to Rome.

This is where our elite send their boys to school.

And, let me tell you, their boys get the best of the best.

The best facilities.

The best equipment.

Every advantage.

Every privilege.

You name it.

Their boys get it.

But, here’s the thing about football.

Football does not care about facilities and equipment. It does not care about privilege. And, it sure as hell does not care about your background. It does not care if your mom is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or scrubs the Burger King fryer. It does not care it your daddy is a State Senator or goes off to jail.

Once you step onto this field, the game judges you objectively.

It measures you in tackles made

 Fumbles recovered

Yards gained

Catches completed and points scored.

Victory does not go to the team with a silver-spoon sense of entitlement.

It goes to the hungriest.

And, boys, we are hungry.


We are famished.


We are ravenous.

But, before you off and feast, remind me…

What happened to Rome?

It fell!

It was toppled by bunch of ugly, hungry and furiously violent Germanic barbarians.

And, boys, today, we are those barbarians.

So, go plunder.

Go sack

Lay Siege.

Punch those pretty boys in their perfect white teeth!


We stomped St. Christopher’s.

I think it was 39 – 7.

And, at the end of the game, when we were all huddled up and Coach Cook asked each coach to a say few things, I stepped forward and said “Boys, I don’t know what to say.”

“Say Rome has fallen, say Rome has fallen” they said.

So I growled “Rome has fallen!”

They go nuts and start fist pumping the air with their helmets.

It was glorious.

PS Just for the record. I know a number of boys who go to St. Christopher’s. I’ve watched them grown up playing on Dillon’s travel soccer team. They are great kids. Their parents are wonderful too. I even like some of their dads who wear embroidered pants.

PSS One of the things I love about football is that for four quarters and forty minutes you get to suspend civility and other societal expectations. You get to be a barbarian. Everything is black and white. They are bad. We are good. We are going to beat them. But at the end of the game, everyone shakes hands and goes back to being a good human. You know like someone who does not judge others for the pants they wear.