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Herd asks to keep '75'

Nov. 17, 2013 @ 12:40 AM

Marshall's 2013 football team has heart.

And not just the kind the Thundering Herd showed during late rallies to win road games at Florida Atlantic and Tulsa.

Granted, that's admirable. But a lot of teams possess that quality. It's rather commonplace in the world of athletics.

That's not the sort of heart Marshall's players showed after returning to Huntington from Tulsa.

Instead, they showed the real kind.

The kind that can't be coached. The kind that can't be developed. The kind of heart an individual either has or doesn't have.

Marshall's players have it.

They proved it Friday when team leaders went to head coach Doc Holliday and athletic director Mike Hamrick with a heart-felt request.

They asked to leave the large, green "75" decal on the left side of their helmets for the remainder of the season.

That's the real kind of heart, folks.

And it speaks volumes about the character, compassion and intangibles this Marshall team possesses.

Think about it.

The Marshall plane crash tragedy happened 43 years ago. Forty-three. Young men the ages of Marshall's players aren't interested in many occurrences that happened that long ago.

That's what makes this request so very special.

It shows they understand what Marshall is all about as a university and as a football program. It shows they comprehend what Huntington is all about as a city. It shows they realize exactly what makes Marshall and Huntington unique.

They get it.

Marshall's players understand that "The Crash" defines us as people and will be a part of this community forever.

That's why the "75" decal has made such an impact on them. And, now, that's why it's not going to be just a one-time occasion, which came about because Marshall happened to be playing a road game on November 14 for the first time since the MU team plane crashed on that date in 1970, killing all 75 aboard.

Marshall's players don't want to pay tribute to the victims on just that one day. They want to do it every day. And that's the way it should be.

After all, aren't they brothers in green?

Yes.

We witnessed that bond during Marshall's 45-34 win over Tulsa on Thursday.

"The one thing I was concerned about going into the game is how they would come out," said Holliday, during his post-game press conference. "They were an emotional bunch, to be honest. It was important to these guys that we gave the fan base, the community, the university and the school something to smile about at the end of the day.

"This team -- we were ugly at times -- but at the end of the day, they found a way to get it done and we won the football game. I've got a feeling that 75 people up there have a smile looking down right now."

I'm certain they did.

Just as I'm sure they're smiling again today because of this heart-felt act of remembrance and devotion.

This is a special group of Marshall players who want to pay tribute to another special group of Marshall players.

What could be more appropriate?

Well, actually, there is one thing.

Marshall's players had the right idea, but now it's time to take it one step farther. I believe the large, green "75" decal should be a permanent fixture on the left side of Marshall's helmets.

Now and forever.

Just like our memories.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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