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Dear Huskers,

We got punched in the gut today. It’s going to hurt for awhile. The only thing we must do is remember who we are and what we represent. We are Huskers.

I’m talking to the fans. I got the opportunity before the UCLA game to take my 49-year-old father to Memorial Stadium. He is a third-generation farmer from northeast Nebraska. The only Husker game he has not watched or listened to has come during deer season. And even then, he recorded the game for later. I took this man up to the press box. Not the one on the sixth floor of West Stadium. I took him to my press box. I took him to KRNU’s spot on the photo deck about the sixth floor. This is the spot where I’ve gotten to call Husker games as a Husker student. This is where I got to live my dream at a young age. I thought I was giddy. I didn’t see true giddiness until moments later. I then took my parents downstairs. I got to lead them onto the field. I got to watch my father step foot on the turf of Memorial Stadium for the first time in his life. My dad teared up. I couldn’t believe it. I hid my emotion behind a camera taking pictures of him and my mother together on the 50-yard line. It will be one of the greatest memories of my life. My parents are Huskers.

I’m talking to Coach Pelini. I call you ‘Coach’ because you have earned that title. I am hurt and I am angry at what you said but I still respect you. I also understand why you said what you did. I know it was out of anger and frustration. I know you regret it. I have seen some amazing things from you as a leader. I’ve seen the Harlem Shake. I’ve seen locker room pranks. I’ve seen Jack Hoffman run 69 yards from the vantage point of my press box. I’ve seen 200 balloons and a moment of silence for a lost member of a fellow team’s family. I’ve seen powerful prayers led on fields around the country. None of these things would be possible without you. I speak alone on this but I highly doubt I am alone: I accept your apology and I forgive you. Despite what you said, you are still a Husker.

I’m talking to the players and coaches who have been on that football field. Thank you. You lead tough lives. You are children, husbands and fathers. I forget that on Saturdays sometimes. To the players especially, I have a hell of a lot of respect for you. You are idols and you can occasionally develop egos. You are told by so many people how great you are. You are built up for the majority of your lives. And then when you make mistakes, you are torn down by those very same people. It’s not fair nor is it right. But there are so many Rex Burkhead’s and Taylor Martinez’s that serve as role models. You do so much good in this world because you were given an opportunity to do that good for the community and for the state. You, most certainly, are Huskers.

I’m talking to the media. I am a senior broadcast journalism major at the University of Nebraska. I direct a sports staff and mentor a class of students dedicated to broadcasting Nebraska Cornhusker football. We are all influenced by you. We see how the fanbase reacts to what you write and what you say. We see what you do to 18-year-old kids that can run and throw a ball. We’ve seen you make heroes. We’ve also seen you destroy lives. We see you bring us into a personal world with players and coaches and show us sides of them that are more wonderful than we’ve ever dreamed. We also see writers and talking heads trying to make names for yourselves by building up and then burying a child half your age. We see you trying to sell papers or gain viewers by criticizing more than analyzing. We can even go to press conferences. However, I, for one, get weary of what occurs there. I see the set ups. I see the attempts to get sound bites. I see you poking the bear. And now I see you tearing that bear down now that you’ve finally made him roar. Even you, my future colleagues, are Huskers.

It’s time now to remind ourselves what makes us Huskers. We look each other in the eye. We shake hands. We wave as we pass in our trucks down a gravel road. We are a sea of red. We fill stadium after stadium with love. We disagree. We still respect one another. We win together. We lose together. We are a family.

Marc Zakrzewski

Sports Director

KRNU, UNL Student Radio

opinion@dailynebraskan.com