Opelika-Auburn News
By Walter Albritton
January 23, 2000

Auburn football players provide unforgettable afternoon for young boys

Justin and Webb Sistrunk, 13 and 9 years old, told me it was the greatest thrill of their lives, bar none.

"You mean it was even better than one of my exciting sermons?" I asked them with a smile. Their heads bobbed up and down, indicating that it was no contest. So what was this thrill of a lifetime?

The boys and some of their young friends had been treated to a game of touch football last Sunday afternoon by several members of the Auburn University football team. Mark Sistrunk, father of Justin and Webb, witnessed the game after driving the boys to the Auburn practice field. Mark was as excited as his young sons, deeply impressed that these college students were willing to spend time with the boys. Mark said it was even more fun than going hunting!

I asked if the quarterback Ben Laird was in the group. "No," Justin told me, "but Jeff Klein was there, and Ben promised to play with us next time." I learned that some of the other Tigers present were Cole Cubelic, center; Jack Swaggart, tight end; Alex Lincoln, middle linebacker; Josh Weldon, defensive tackle; and Mike Pucillo, offensive guard.

Not only did the boys get to play touch football for two hours, they also were treated to a visit to the locker room and the weight room. They even got to drink some Gatorade, and the players signed autographs for the boys.

Who were the boys? Justin and Webb gave me these names: Luke Woods, Jed and Ethan Toney, Jonathan Kenny, Christopher Brunnelle, Andrew and Taylor Burge, and Matthew Tapley.

They are not famous boys, little known except to their families and school friends. But last Sunday afternoon they enjoyed the greatest thrill of their lives when several well-known college football players took time to play with them. They saw some of their Saturday heros at their best behavior.

When bigtime football players get in trouble with the law, we hear about it; but their good deeds usually go unnoticed. Good deeds simply do not make good copy. Perhaps those of us who write and print the news should look for more stories like this one about some college football players who were excellent role models for some young boys.

For Justin, Webb, and their friends, it was an unforgettable Sunday afternoon.