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Why I’m a Fan of the Miami Hurricanes: Matt Washington

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Here’s my story

Texas A&M v University of Miami Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

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Everyone has their own path to becoming a Hurricane. Here’s the story of how I became a Hurricanes fan.

I will try not to make this too much of an autobiography. I was in my early teens, slowly lowering myself into the waters of the football world. Our neighborhood had just got cable, which was a big deal for me; before then I had to read highlights, since I couldn’t watch them on Sportscenter.

I should mentioned that I call Canada home, so let me just get a few things out of the way:

  • No, we don’t live in igloos.
  • Yes, hockey is THE biggest sport here.
  • No, it’s not winter seven months of the year (well, at least where I live).

The only games that would air consistently were playoff games and the Super Bowl. While the 2001 Super Bowl was not the first one I ever watched, it turned out to be the one that helped grow my love for the game. There was a team in a purple uniform being led by a player who not only prophesied success, he brought it about in an epic and vicious fashion.

My Hurricane fandom was born of my admiration of Ray Lewis.

Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers - December 24, 2006 Photo by Dan Beineke/NFLPhotoLibrary

I admired his play, from the intensity he brought in the huddle to his ability to cover the field from sideline to sideline. Plenty of people did not enjoy Ray Lewis the player, because they were not fans of Ray Lewis the person. However, when he was on the field, he demanded respect from his opponents. Ray talked the talk, walked the walk, then talked some more while his opponent lay on the ground. To this day I still remember his battles with Eddie George in those epic games between the Titans and Ravens in the early 2000s.

It’s from that love of Ray and the NFL that I grew to appreciate the college game. It only made sense to look into Ray’s alma mater, to gain more insight in how one the best linebackers in the NFL became who he was.

It turns out he went to the University of Miami.

Damn, how many guys who play in the NFL went to Miami? I thought to myself. So, like most curious children do, I ignored what I was supposed to be doing in class and browsed every NFL roster for players with Miami (FL) next to their name. I went to Chapters (the Canadian equivalent of Barnes & Noble) to purchase the Street & Smith’s College Football Yearbook, Athlon Sports’ college football magazine, and something called Phil Steele’s College Football Preview to read up on the program as much as I could. I would also try to get information from the internet when a computer was available and the old “be-bop-boop”’ of dial-up internet allowed me access to the World Wide Web.

As I waded from the shallow end of Canes fandom and slowly descended into the deep end, I began to understand the correlation between being a Hurricane and becoming a great football player.

Unfortunately, by the time I was able to watch games live, it was a bit after Kellen Winslow II, Jonathan Vilma, Sean Taylor, and DJ Williams had left for the NFL. I didn’t care if Kyle Wright was a transfer; he had to be something if he was playing for Miami!

Playing in the the Orange Bowl (a.k.a. “The OB”)—in the stadium that I remembered from Any Given Sunday—Miami established themselves as a football factory that continually develops bonafide stars who are named to Pro Bowls or are recognized as All-Pro worthy players.

The best part of the University of Miami, in my opinion, is that players are encouraged to show emotion. You aren’t just a number to be recognized after making a play. You are able to celebrate your successes; a contentious view, but something I adored at an impressionable age. Imagine having fun, talking smack, and running up the score with your friends while polarizing the college football landscape all at the same time. It was a refreshing philosophy to see in football.

So many other programs are concerned that you have to play the game the right way. Sacrifice your individuality, limit your personality, do not place yourself above the team. At Miami, while players may not be just like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, or Warren Sapp, every single one has managed to embed their personality into their style of play. This is how we do it at The U!

When you watch a Hurricanes game, you realize that the players see themselves as more than just teammates. It reminds me that most of the teams I have seen growing up are more like families than anything else. Cliché, I know. But when you play the sport, have your own experience of bad teams, and then compare Miami’s culture to theirs, it’s not even close.

NCAA Football: Miami at Georgia Tech Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

While Ray turned my eyes toward Miami, it was the program itself that sold me on The U. I mean, those guys could’ve played for any program in the country, yet most of them stayed home. Young men from various states committed to them because they bought into what it meant to be a Hurricane. From the prospective players who grew up idolizing the institution, to the current players who play to keep the program at its high level, to those who go pro and mention the U at every opportunity, IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U. I use this phrase as the tagline of every post I write because I truly believe that football is a better sport when the mighty Miami Hurricanes are at their best. Liked by few and despised by many, but you better be sure to give us your best shot.

IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!!!

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