Since 2014, Boston College football has played an annual Red Bandanna Game honoring Welles Crowther, a former BC lacrosse player who lost his life saving up to a dozen others in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. With the 20th anniversary of the tragic day arriving on Saturday, BC will don its commemorative Red Bandanna uniforms for the first of two times this season, as the Eagles take on UMass in an unofficial Red Bandanna Game of sorts.
“We talk about Welles and we talk about the Red Bandanna Game,” Hafley said. “How could we not wear those jerseys on 9/11, for the 20th anniversary? … To me, it was a no-brainer.”
For the players, the opportunity to wear the Red Bandanna uniform means even more than donning the maroon and gold on any given Saturday, especially with the rare opportunity to wear them twice this season.
“It means a lot to us to represent something so big and so meaningful for the school and for the nation,” Alec Lindstrom said during Wednesday’s press conference.
In addition to the added gravitas that comes with the Red Bandanna jerseys, Lindstrom will undertake a homecoming of sorts. A product of Dudley, Mass., Lindstrom was sure to differentiate between his home region of Central Mass. from Western Mass., which includes towns such as Amherst. But with family local to the region, he’ll practically be playing in front of a home crowd.
“It’s gonna be a village,” Lindstrom said. “I’m surprised they don’t even have their own section right now for the Lindstrom clan, but I’m super excited to see everyone.”
Though the region isn’t exactly a hot spot for college football in the same way that the southern United States is, New England has produced some big names over the years. Lindstrom’s older brother, Chris, was drafted 14th overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2019 NFL Draft. Other famous names such as Matt Hasselbeck (Westwood, Mass.), Mark van Eeghen (Cranston, R.I.), and Anthony Sherman (North Attleboro, Mass.) come to mind.
“Obviously we don’t get the same hype as down south or on the West Coast or whatever, but New England has ballers,” receiver CJ Lewis said during Tuesday’s press conference.
Still, despite close proximity and an abundance of “ballers,” BC rarely makes the trip to Amherst to take on UMass. The last time the Minutemen took home a victory was 1979, and three years later was the last time the teams met in Amherst. Since then, the Eagles have taken on UMass at home four times and at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro twice.
“I’ll play anybody wherever they want to play us,” Hafley said. “We don’t care where we play. That has very little to do with anything. If we play at UMass, it’s just like another away game for us.”
Because of that mentality, Hafley said he’s treating this game week identical to how he typically would. Even though UMass has won just 11 games since joining the FBS as an independent, the Eagles’ training regiment will look the same.
Hafley repeatedly emphasized his respect for the Minutemen and how seriously he and his team will take this game, but before ACC competition begins, he has no plans to give up his best plays on film.
As a result, when the Eagles load the buses this weekend, they’ll once again be reviewing a “vanilla” play book in their heads for the quick trip across the state.
“Any chance we can get to spread our brand out across New England, we should [take it], whether it’s playing UMass, whether it’s playing UConn, whether it’s playing anybody in the area,” Hafley said.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor