Sure, when Miami enters the discussion, sin is one of the first things that leaps unbidden into the mind. But as the famous shirts of a bygone era in this rivalry proclaim, we are Catholics. And that means we love being reminded that we are sinners. We do guilt really well. So let me sound a cautionary note for our lads at this critical juncture in the season; and since I’m a generous minister of Grace and wish everyone to come to Salvation, I will also counsel the Hurricanes – in terms that they can understand.
There are a number of sins that could trip us up on our march onward to victory. But let’s take a gander at the very worst of the worst: The Seven Deadly Sins.
Notre Dame: “Pride goeth before the fall,” as The Good Book reminds us in Proverbs. Yes, we are undefeated with four impressive wins and no losses. But this constitutes only one-third of a very long season. And a shameful defeat tomorrow would be devastating. Indeed, we have a dreadful history of this – more than once, we have been undefeated at the very end of a season, only to lose in the last game; more than once, we have been the top-ranked team in the country, only to fall to a significantly lesser opponent; more than once, we have faced and defeated the number-one team, only to collapse in ignominy one short week later. There should be no pride attached to 4-0 if a team hopes to see 12-0.
Miami: Let’s say your booster gives you a lovely, rotating, miniature hubcap on a thick gold chain. And a set of false gold teeth to wear over your own. And a shiny cane with a rhinestone encrusted head, though you have no natural limp. You decide to wear all of these nice things at the same time to impress your friends and demonstrate that “You have game.” That’s pride. But instead of drawing compliments, you draw the attention of the NCAA.
Notre Dame: Many, many people (particularly those that work for the spiteful broadcast tetragrammaton that shall not be named) enjoy denigrating the Fighting Irish and heaping scorn on our proud traditions. This can understandably cause outrage and indignation. But we cannot give in to these feelings and lash out by running up the score. Well…I’m not exactly sure we can run up a score lately… but that’s not the point. We must not give vent to anger with pottymouth, foul cheers in the stands, or ungentlemanly comportment on the field. We will only be singled-out for further vilification.
Miami: Let’s say your home-monitoring ankle bracelet has become a real drag every time you want to go on a Pabst Blue Ribbon run after midnight. It’s also rubbing through your Confederate flag tattoo in a way that would embarrass General Lee. In frustration, you attack it viciously with an inappropriate gardening implement. After the bleeding subsides, the Miami-Dade sheriffs are at your door. There’s no PBR in lockup. That’s what anger does.
Notre Dame: There can be too much of a good thing. We don’t gild the Lily – or the chain of Hawaiian Hibiscus we apparently wear for the rest of the season. I direct this caveat more so at the students who will not be on Soldier Field tomorrow. Don’t eat too much fine Chicago sausage, or you will be too uncomfortable to enjoy the game. Avoid Old Style entirely. Don’t hit the town for too many hours tonight, or you will be miserable tomorrow. In general, do not let the excesses of the Big City bedazzle you into excessively large living, or you will return to sedate South Bend poorer, exhausted, and ashamed, with a full week of classes before October break.
Miami: Let’s say your booster – we’ll call him Sugar D. or S. Daddy, however you want his name to appear in court papers – pulls into Sunrise Harbor in what he calls his yacht (50 feet long, but with no sail and no taste). He invites you and you teammates to enjoy lots of fancy champagne in crystal flutes, which is quite a step up from boxed wine taken through a funnel. He also invites you to socialize with his lady-friends on board. But you all take it too far. And when it turns out the champagne “fell of the back of a truck,” and the womenfolk were actually harlots and streetwalkers, your shoreline cruise of gluttony will come back to haunt you. Especially when the photographer from the Herald prints the pictures.
Notre Dame: It would seem counterintuitive to state that sloth can affect a football-playing scholar-athlete in the prime of his life. But this isn’t the “stay in bed until your dorm room smells like something has died” kind of sloth. This is the variety of sloth that causes you to give less than your full effort because, in a moment of weakness, you believe that your best isn’t necessary. This is when you fumble, throw an interception, or fail to pick up the first down on third-and-short. We play 60 full minutes, and each second of each minute demands all of your concentration, all of your skill, all of your energy. That’s how you have gotten this far; that’s the only way you will achieve ultimate victory.
Miami: Let’s say some collegiate governing body decides to penalize your football program for…say… being far, far beyond institutional control. Said governing body goes so far as to cancel an entire football season as a punishment. Now aren’t you upset that you let Sugar D. enroll you in a course that didn’t exist, while sending nerds to take your tests in the courses that did? Aren’t you bummed that you ditched all those classes in your major “Adult Leisure Services,” since now, as damaged goods, you’ll actually have to seek gainful employment instead of continuing the professional football career you began at the U. Don’t worry too much, though – Notre Dame alums employ a lot of people, even charity cases.
Notre Dame: Really, our lads have nothing substantial of which to be envious. Unfortunately, this often causes people to become envious of little, petty things. It doesn’t matter that some live broadcast dog-and-pony show prefers to bounce all around the country but never lands in Notre Dame, Indiana. They want a gross spectacle for a backdrop, not hallowed ground. It doesn’t matter that the mutual-assured-destruction clubs known as Athletic Conferences have automatic invitations to bowl games. We will always be invited (and sell-out the stadium, and get watched more than any other game) if the bowl organizers can find any possible way to include us. Besides, the smart conference just gave us their invitation to the party without even asking us to take them. So there’s one less thing to be envious of.
Miami: Let’s say S. Daddy is hedging his bets. Or feathering his nest. Either way, in case you don’t turn out to be a sufficiently overpaid professional football player for him to blackmail with 8” by 10” glossy photographs, S. Daddy is giving more incentive items (we’ll use the term ‘swag’ as a collective noun) to one of your teammates. You already have a nice condominium with a hot tub and lots of…swag…to swim in the tub with you. But you’re envious of your teammate. So you threaten to kneecap him with the nickel-plated handgun S. Daddy gave you “just in case his Russian investors come knocking.” Now the Miami-Dade sheriffs are involved again, and all because you let envy get the better of you.
Notre Dame: Is it inappropriate to want another Heisman? Is it bad to want another Championship? Even when we have the most of both? No, this is not sinful. This is seeking the awards that are deserved, either by our fine Hawaiian captain or by the team as a whole. Greed, in this case, is wanting every one of our football games televised…which already happens. Then greed is wanting our shirts and hats to be worn by hundreds of thousands around the world…which is already the case. I’m at a loss here – like envy, I don’t think this should really affect us. And face it, if you go on to be a professional football player getting paid millions upon millions, our development people will have their hands so far into your pockets that you’ll part with too much cash ever to be called greedy.
Miami: Why do you think you’ve gained the reputation you have?
Notre Dame: Ahem… first, put all dirty thoughts out of your mind. We have 170 years of repressive rules that make this an intellectual sin, not a physical one. Lust is the inordinate craving for… I mean, lust can be like when you really want to… Well, imagine lust is like a beautiful…NO. It’s great to win all the time, but that’s not the be-all and end-all of life; you have to be a good person first, and develop your mind; God then Country then Notre Dame; and the only women who matter are your mother, your wife, your daughters, and the BVM. We’re just going to leave it at that. I said LEAVE IT!
Miami: To quote a President of the United States, “The Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ Christ said, I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust has in his heart already committed adultery. I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times.” If you can just keep it in your heart, it would be a step in the right direction. But who am I kidding…
These are the Seven Deadly Sins. They affect each of us differently, so we must be constantly on guard against giving in to them. Some call them the Cardinal Sins. But that’s the title of my article on the Stanford game next week.