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The Final 49: The Tunnel


We take a moment during each of the Final 49 weeks until Kickoff 2013 to look at various aspects of the Charlotte 49ers football program.


The Tunnel

Aug. 29, 2013

By Tom Whitestone

Months ago, head coach Brad Lambert was asked about his favorite part of Richardson Stadium.

Often times the answer to that, among the coaching staff, was the weight room.  The weight room, with all it's machinery, all the shine off the metal, all the space and tools.  You can't help but get excited to work out -- and the more excited the team is to work out the stronger the team will be. 

The weight room has the dumbbells and barbells and benches and ropes and chains -- and it is all about toughness.  You look at the 49ers weight room, and it screams football.   

Coach Lambert, on this day, though, didn't mention the weight room. 

He mentioned The Tunnel.

For the team, that's where the excitement builds.  That's where the team gathers one last time before taking the field.  That's where the team will huddle as one with a world worth of possibilities in front of them.

That's where the dream literally becomes reality.

Remember the movie Field of Dreams.  Moonlight Graham was a young kid full of baseball dreams who got a chance to play them out on that Iowa cornfield.

At one point, though, he crossed the invisible plane into reality. Moonlight became Doc with a whole new set of goals and objectives.

That's what the tunnel is. It holds all those dreams close with the team huddled together, jumping and shouting.  Step out out of the tunnel and into the sunlight -- and it all becomes real.

It is no longer dreams and possibilities.  It is execution and performance.

To be honest, this whole six-year process has been the tunnel.

We've waited, we've anticipated.  We have longed to get to the day when it finally became real.

Just like the team, we have bounced up and down in eager anticipation.  We've jumped and screamed and worked ourselves into a frenzy waiting for it all to become real.

Players and coaches talked about it all the time.  The first practice in pads -- now it's real.  The spring game -- it's real now.  The first preseason training camp - this is for real.

But through all that, we have still been huddled in that tunnel.  

Saturday we break the plane.  Saturday we leave our hopes and dreams behind and emerge into the sunlight.

Lambert knows that feeling.  And he treasures it.  The team, as one, ready to explode onto the field.  Ready to put all the work of the last two years into action. 

It's a magical place --  where you love that feeling of getting fired up with all your brothers around you -- but you also love that feeling of finally crossing that plane.

If you could bottle excitement, the tunnel's the spot the grab it.

But what a sight it will be on Saturday to see the team finally breaking out.



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