John Clay: Cobb, UK fans share the same goal

He wants to believe in blue just as much as you do

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistOctober 20, 2010 

John Clay

Tuesday morning, Randall Cobb manned up.

Not that we ever doubted his manhood.

After Tuesday's practice, Kentucky's star wide receiver stepped in front of the media and said he made a mistake for criticizing some fans via his Twitter account on Sunday, and hoped the fans would forgive him.

He didn't say, "If I offended anyone ..."

He wasn't sad, or downcast, or even hesitant.

He smiled, took full responsibility, and said he wanted to move on.

But then Dan Rieffer from Channel 36 asked Cobb his intentions behind the tweet.

"What I wanted to get out of it was to let others realize how we can tell what's going on," Cobb said. "We know what's going on. We can hear you. Regardless of whether we respond or not, we can hear you. We know what's being said, and it hurts sometimes. It really does."

It's an important point, one Kentucky fans, any fan, should remember.

But then the players have to understand the fans' position, as well.

No one could have presented that much better than Brandon Priddy, a 2002 University of Kentucky graduate who is now an architect in Nashville. Priddy loves Kentucky football, and, better still, loves Cobb. So Monday, he e-mailed me an open letter to Cobb, and graciously allowed me to post the entire letter on my blog.

"Randall," wrote Priddy, "First let me say thank you. You are what our football program aspires to be. Unafraid of anyone and unwilling to accept anything less than 100 percent from yourself, your teammates or even your fans. Nobody told you to be an SEC also-ran. You see yourself and your team as second to no one. More importantly you don't know why anyone else doesn't see it that way, either. We love that about you.

"But to be honest, you don't really know us. I know it feels like you do; it's been a thrilling 2.5 years, but we were here long before that. There were a lot of unthrilling years before you — and that's the part you don't understand.

" ... Time and time again we buy in and get excited — only to be let down. It takes a toll, it really does. I've only been a fan since I started school in '97 and it's taken a toll. I have friends who remember heartbreak long before that. If I had a dollar for every game I've seen where we get 'oh so close' only to let it slip away, I'd be Urban Meyer's bail bondsman.

"True story — I was more excited by your two-point conversion than the actual TD on Saturday night because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that S.C. would get a field goal shot. Like I said, it takes a toll.

"Which brings me to you. Are you different from the parade who has come through before you? Are you the One to help us make the Leap? We don't know. I think you might be. I see the passion you play with, how you raise your game to meet the moment — I think maybe you're different.

"I'm driving 3.5 hours to watch the game this weekend. A lot of people will drive a lot farther. We want to see if it's different this time, or if all roads lead to Nashville again. Is it? Can we even glance toward Atlanta?

" ... I know it's not fair that you carry the burden of a history that stretches back to before you were born — but as Kentucky fans we learned long ago that football isn't fair.

"Trust me, we want to believe — it just takes a little longer than it used to."

Truth is, they're not so different, Randall Cobb and Brandon Priddy, those two in blue.

They both just want to win.

Reach John Clay at (859) 231-3226 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3226, or jclay@herald-leader.com. Read his blog at Kentucky.com.

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