Former Georgia Tech center Sean Bedford was a terrific player and a smart student.
Turns out he can write, too.
Bedford, a wee bit emotional after learning the 2009 team would be stripped of its ACC title, wrote an open letter to the NCAA, saying that if they want his championship ring back, "you'll have to pry it from my cold, dead finger."
I was at that game. I saw Georgia Tech win it. The NCAA can't change that. And while many of us think it's a fluff sanction that pales in comparison to loss of scholarships or bowl bans, players like Bedford bring a different perspective. Here's the text of his letter, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Thank you for handing down penalties that only adversely affect the players who did things the right way. This reeks of an organization desperate to prove that it has some sort of control over its member institutions despite lacking the ability and firepower to police the serious offenders and protect the student-athletes whose interests you purport to have at heart.
While I realize that all violations merit some kind of punishment, I have a hard time grasping the notion that one of the proudest moments in my life (and the lives of every other individual that was a part of the team and program in 2009) is apparently worth $312 in your eyes. If that truly is the case, I'd be happy to provide you with that same amount of money (cash or check, your choice) in exchange for the reinstatement of the title my teammates and I earned through our blood, sweat and tears.
It took months of hard work, dedication and personal sacrifice by a team of over 100 players, 10 coaches and countless staff members to achieve that championship, but, evidently, it only takes the handful of pencil pushers, lawyers and professors on your infractions committee to strip us of it.
I was a part of the 2009 ACC Championship team and, while you can pretend retroactively that it didn't happen, I have vivid memories of an incredible season that was, and continues to be, one of the most fun, meaningful, important, and very real times in my 23 years on this planet. I'll be wearing my championship ring with pride and if you want that too, you'll have to pry it from my cold, dead finger.