Football's unsung heroes have a new hero. A patron saint. A man who boldly went where few had gone before.
Sir Barrett Jones, the Alabama center, has been knighted by his fellow offensive linemen of many generations. Toasts, if not statues, will be raised to the man who stood up to a quarterback.
Jones shoved his quarterback, AJ McCarron, on Monday night in the national championship game, relieving the frustrations of 100 years of quarterbacks getting all the glory while the linemen do all the grunt work.
“One of the coolest things I've ever seen,” said former OU center Vince Carter, now a regional director for Oklahoma's Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
With seven minutes left in the Big Bowl and Alabama rolling over Notre Dame 42-14 Monday night, McCarron animatedly called for the snap, but Jones was changing the line call. McCarron yelled at his center, went through a series of gyrations and finally tried to call timeout, though too late to avoid a delay-of-game penalty.
McCarron barked in Jones' face, and the burly Jones had had enough. He shoved the star of the show, a two-time national champ quarterback, an Alabama legend. In front of God and country and McCarron's beauty-queen girlfriend, Jones put his hands on his quarterback with the same disgust he used on the Notre Dame defense.
It was the best television since the third season of “Lost.”
One minute, Nick Saban's Crimson Tide is a well-oiled machine of fundamentals and flawless execution, the next minute they're the Bronx Zoo Yankees.
“I loved it,” said former OSU offensive lineman Sam Mayes. “There's nothing worse than some yappy skill player getting in your face.”
Barrett Jones' shove was payback for every quarterback who showed up his linemen on the gridiron. The Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Cam Newton crowd.
“I respect a guy not taking lip from the glamour boys,” said former OSU offensive lineman Paul Blair.
Linemen don't always take such verbal abuse. But they usually retaliate in private.
“I've been in huddles with a quarterback, and a senior offensive lineman just reamed him out,” said former OSU offensive lineman Derrel Gofourth.