Alongside winning his seventh National Championship last night, Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban echoed his primary goal for this unprecedented season. “I wanted to win this for our players,” Saban said in his acceptance speech.
Alabama cruised by its competition this season and won its sixth title under Saban, defeating Ohio State in the title game, 52-24. The Crimson Tide performance was outstanding in Miami, but some moments caught social media and other professional athletes’ eye.
Two previously injured Alabama players, wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and senior center Landon Dickerson both took the field in some fashion on Monday night.
Dickerson was a heartwarming story as he tore his ACL in the SEC Championship game against Florida on Dec. 19 and wanted nothing more than to compete for a championship. Serving as a senior captain and a likely first-round draft pick, Alabama and Saban decided to let Dickerson dress and put him in for the game’s final snaps.
Dickerson was deserving of the moment, and the fact that he was walking after surgery just weeks ago and was able to take the field for one more snap was nothing short of amazing.
But that injury story and moment didn’t stand alone.
In what was much more controversial, Waddle actually played meaningful minutes and reps at wide receiver. Waddle, who was a higher rated prospect than Heisman teammate DeVonta Smith, suffered what was thought to be a season-ending ankle injury on Oct. 24. There were rumors and whispers on if Alabama made the National Championship that Waddle could be ready to suit up.
Waddle caught three passes for 34 yards but was seen to be in some discomfort throughout the night. This caught the attention of multiple NFL players who took their opinions to Twitter.
Patrick Mahomes commenting, “Respect the heart! But you can’t let that man be out there!”.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>NFL stars reacted to Jaylen Waddle returning from a fractured ankle to play in the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/NationalChampionship?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#NationalChampionship</a> game. <a href=”https://t.co/o9E5VJyRn5″>pic.twitter.com/o9E5VJyRn5</a></p>— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) <a href=”https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/1348807700109537286?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 12, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
Before the game, ESPN’s Allison Williams reported that Alabama met with Waddle and his family before the game to ultimately make the decision.
Fortunately, Waddle made it through the game without injuring himself more. He and Dickerson have time to get healthy and recover fully for their next step to the NFL.
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