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“Emlen Tunnell was the first black player voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was the first defensive specialist elected to the Hall of Fame. He played his last game over 50 years ago. And though he still ranks second all-time in interceptions, Tunnell is little remembered.

This is roughly taken from an NPR article—and it’s important because history helps us pause and think about Piedmont’s “unsung heroes.” More on that, but what’s really significant about Emlen Tunnell is that he has one of the best quotes in American football: Bill Parcells cited Tunnell when he himself was inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. “Losers assemble in little groups and complain about the coaches and players in other little groups, but winners assemble as a team.” Wow! Winners assemble as a team.

And that team is made of heroes—some we hear about in just about every play and then there are the “unsung heroes”, the o-line and the d-line.

“A football team’s linemen hang together. They are the unsung heroes: the down-and-dirty guys up front are the ones who make everything else possible. But they slug on in anonymity, looking to each other for support and camaraderie, says a young center from the University of Chicago.” “We’re absolutely a team within a team.”

Piedmont’s center, Ryan Nakamura and other’s on the line: Hunter Abel, Matt Burge, Jason Duecker, Andrew Jara, Brian Lee, Joey Mirante, Alex de la Paz and Jacob Zimmerman and are Piedmont’s “team within a team.” They slug on in relative anonymity, but they are essential to every play. They are the unsung heroes.

Tackle, guard and end in all their machinations make up the offensive line, but it’s the center that is considered the leader of the line. Since they’re right in the middle of the line and control the start of the play, fellow linemen rely on the center to make sure everyone is on the same page. If everyone is on the same page, the play has a much better chance of working out. Again, amazing teamwork.

Steve Young once told Bill Parcells that the “locker room was a laboratory for human nature”—and Parcells in turn talked about “acceptance to that locker room as being a willingness to contribute to the greater good.” In his Hall of Fame speech, he said “if you are willing to help, come on in.” This is what the “unsung heroes” of the Piedmont Highlanders do day in and day out—they contribute. Thank you.

Please come this Friday, 9/13 to cheer on the Piedmont Highlanders as they “come home” and take on Albany. This is a special game, as Piedmont High School will be honoring Ambassador Christopher Stevens in a solemn half time salute. This is a time for the entire community “assemble as a team” and to remember all heroes, sung and unsung. God bless America!

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