Several high-profile sports people with ties to West Virginia have put their name on a letter to Sen. Joe Manchin in support of voting rights legislation. Jerry West and Nick Saban provide most of the star power. It reads, in part:
“We strongly support urgently needed legislation that will protect both the rights of voters and the integrity of outcomes in all Federal elections,” the letter to Manchin, dated Jan. 13, begins. “The Freedom to Vote Act, which you sponsored with Committee Chair Senator Klobuchar and other colleagues, effectively addressed these goals. Now we also support your leadership in shaping legislation to secure our democracy by protecting election integrity, principled Presidential transitions and our national security during transitions.
“We come from some of our nation’s most popular sports leagues, conferences and teams. Some of us have roots and shaped our lives in West Virginia. Others followed very different paths and some of us have been rivals in sports or business. But we are all certain that democracy is best when voting is open to everyone on a level playing field; the referees are neutral; and at the end of the game the final score is respected and accepted.”
This rather small bit of political posturing has drawn the ire of Ralph Norman (R-SC), who believes Saban could be a tremendous football coach if he simply focused a bit on football.
He has a point. Saban has been a head coach at the collegiate level for 26 years and has only managed to win seven national titles. Which means that he fails to capture the ultimate prize more than 73 percent of the time. Can you even imagine what those numbers could look like had he not spent 10-15 minutes agreeing to have his name on something set to a senator?
When the story of this past season is written, it will surely be Saban's momentary mental diversion that did Alabama in 15 minutes shy of the national championship and certainly not the Tide's top two receivers going down with injuries.