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Owls Donate Per Diem to Clemson player with Kid...


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Owls? giving spirit deserves salute

By BOB SPEAR

bspear@thestate.com

CHARLOTTE

 

THE WORDS STRIPPED across the top of Temple's football media guide ? ?Temple Football 2006: The Golden Era Begins? ? invite sneers.

 

Golden Era? A team that lost its 19th consecutive game Thursday night and Golden Era hardly could be considered synonymous.

 

Well, even amid the rubble of a dreadful drubbing at the hands of high-powered Clemson, here is a standing ovation for the Owls.

 

The cheers come not from their football prowess; in that area, they have miles to go before they can compete on reasonable terms with most NCAA Division I football teams. Rather, the Owls deserve a salute for big hearts and their refusing to succumb to overwhelming odds.

 

On the field, they keep coming back for more ? from national powers such as Louisville and Clemson and even from lighter weights such as Vanderbilt. Off the field, their generosity knows no bounds.

 

For the second time this season, first-year Temple coach Al Golden ? the reason for the "Golden Era" reference ? and his team donated their per diem money for a road trip to a worthy cause.

 

This time, the benefactor of $1,500 is the Fahmarr McElrathbey Trust, the fund established to provide financial assistance for the brother of Clemson defensive back Ray Ray McElrathbey. The player, remember, became his 11-year-old brother's guardian in order to remove the youngster from their mother, an admitted drug user.

 

"Our team and staff have followed your story and been tremendously moved by the situation and how you have handled it," Golden wrote in a letter to Ray Ray McElrathbey. "Our team voted to donate one week game per diem to help you and your brother... .

 

"Our players have a great appreciation for what you are doing ... trying to handle the demands of being a parent figure to an 11 year old. What you are doing will not only impact your life and Fahmarr's but many more people that you are an inspiration to."

 

The Owls represent Class ? with a capital C.

 

Never give up. The Temple players made a similar gesture to a needy youngster in Buffalo, the site of their opening game.

 

That game, a 9-3 overtime loss to the University of Buffalo, perhaps will be the closest the Owls come to a victory this season. Back-to-back 62-0 poundings from Louisville and Minnesota would wreck a team with lesser resolve, but Temple persevered and kept the score reasonable a week ago in a 28-17 loss to Kent State.

 

How the Temple program disintegrated into such a sad state is a discussion for another time, but suffice it to say, Golden inherited a mess. That the Owls have played 20 freshman who spent last year in high school testifies to the dismal state. Overall, 36 players have seen their first collegiate playing time.

 

Although the Tigers dominated Thursday night, Temple showed mettle. The Owls burned Clemson with kickoff returns ? every team does, of course ? and a slick reverse on their first play from scrimmage set up a field goal and a 3-0 lead.

 

To no one's surprise, the Tigers retaliated quickly and carved the Temple defense to shreds. Yet, even as the score mounted, the Owls fought the good fight and broke through with a fourth-quarter touchdown against Clemson's reserves.

 

Battling enormous odds in every game cannot be fun, and maintaining morale in the face of mounting scores must be frustrating. Yet, the Owls kept the faith.

 

Couple their off-the-field generosity with their perseverance on the field, and these Owls deserve a salute.

 

Great gesture

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