STARKVILLE – In dark times such as these, a football team needs a ray of sunshine. Enter Tyson Lee.
The Mississippi State quarterback isn't just a mere ray of sunshine, though. He's a sunbeam, as wide as the highway, blasting through the clouds that hang over the Bulldogs, who are 3-6 (1-4 SEC) heading into Saturday's matchup with No. 1 Alabama (10-0, 6-0).
After that heartbreaking, hair-pulling 14-13 loss to Kentucky last time out, Lee gladly addressed the media and managed to put a smile on his face. He took the blame for what he did wrong, but he looked forward to getting better and atoning for the loss next chance he got.
Every time he's interviewed, he speaks clearly and thoughtfully, and he says “Thank you” and “Yes, sir” more than most people my age say it.
He acts like talking with you was the highlight of his day.
He wears braces, which makes his smile even brighter.
And I think to myself, Is this kid for real?
Yeah, he is.
During the Kentucky postgame press conference, he said something that caught some folks off guard: “Hey, Jesus went through stuff, and we're going to go through stuff. That's how life is.”
It seemed an odd comparison to some. Maybe so, at first. I mean, football isn't all that important in the grand scheme of things, is it?
Well, I'd argue otherwise, but that's a column for another day. From Lee's perspective, who he is and what he does at this stage in his life are inextricably bound.
'Metaphor for life'
“Football is a metaphor for life a lot of times,” he said on Thursday. “In life we go through good things, in life we go through bad things. God has a plan for everything we go through. …
“Knowing God has a plan allows you to be optimistic and allows you to have faith in Him.”
I wrote last week about faith. About how these Bulldogs seem to have an inordinate amount of it. About how it's a good thing they do, because the outlook is rather bleak from an outsider's point of view.
From the inside, the sky is a little bluer.
This is Lee's first year at State, and he hasn't even been the starting quarterback the whole season. But his attitude has helped the team to keep looking ahead.
“It's the idea of, let's move on to the next play, let's move on to the next day and see if we can get better and change it,” coach Sylvester Croom said.
As upbeat as Lee appears to be, he does get down. He just hides it well, and he gets over it quickly.
“If you're down, it allows people around you to be down,” he said. “If you're upbeat, that carries over to other guys. … I need people to look up to and encourage me, and that's what I want to do if at all possible.”
So the Bulldogs would do well to do like Lee and keep their eyes trained on the light, lest the darkness swallow them up.
Brad Locke (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers MSU for the Daily Journal.