In 1975, English soft rock group 10cc released its biggest hit, "I'm Not In Love," with the cryptic and repetitious whispered line, "Big Boys Don't Cry."
After his surprising win in Saturday's 30th annual Sprint All-Star Race, NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray proved that big boys do cry—and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
I can't decide which is more refreshing, McMurray's win or how choked up he got. One played off the other, a reflection of a job well done and proving that race car drivers aren't all sullen, as runner-up Kevin Harvick was after the race, essentially pouting and blaming his pit crew for losing the $1 million first prize.
"We recovered from the first bad pit stop on pit road, and then we didn't recover from the second bad pit stop on pit road," Harvick told Fox Sports. "We just didn't get it done on pit road."
This isn't the first time McMurray has choked up and teared up. He's also done so after several of his seven career Sprint Cup victories.
And the thing is each time his eyes well up, there's just something that makes fans choke up as well.
One of my Twitter followers, Lee Curtis, said it absolutely perfect after McMurray's win Saturday night: "How could anyone not be happy for Jamie McMurray! Class act and genuine."
Indeed, McMurray is a class act and genuine. He's been that way ever since his first Sprint Cup win, which interestingly came at Charlotte back in 2002, when he filled in for then-injured Sterling Marlin.
I've never quite gotten why much of society considers it wrong or wussy for male athletes to show emotion, especially tears of joy. What's wrong with releasing your true and deep feelings, rather than try to hold them back so you can pretend to look correct politically and masculinity-wise?
If and when Danica Patrick wins her first Sprint Cup race, I'm willing to bet she'll open the floodgates—and she'll be praised for it. People will get it, they'll understand how such a big burden was lifted off her shoulder and how she released that burden by letting the tears fall.
So why does that make McMurray different?
Let's consider another athlete who made major news recently, namely Michael Sam. The first openly gay NFL player choked back tears while kissing his boyfriend after being chosen in the draft.
The reaction from society? For the most part, very positive—as it should be. Regardless of Sam's sexuality, most people understood why he got emotional and also wanted to share such a moment with his significant other.
Much like he did last fall when he won at Talladega (see video below), in his post-race interview on TV Saturday night, McMurray choked up several times. He recalled a conversation earlier in the day with his young son, whose day's activities centered around playing in his sandbox.
When three-year-old Carter asked McMurray in kind what he had planned for that day, Daddy Jamie said he hoped to go out and win a million bucks. He also promised Carter that if he indeed won Saturday night's race, he'd buy him a huge train set.
NASCAR likes to promote how much it’s a family sport and how it extols family values, and McMurray's emotion and words were nothing short of golden, showing the true human side of him, the devoted family man and excellent race car driver.
Even McMurray's fellow racers were glad he won.
"I’m really happy for Jamie," third-place finisher Matt Kenseth told Fox Sports. "If we couldn’t win, it’s always nice to see good guys win."
Carl Edwards, who McMurray traded paint with on the final restart before building an eventual 10-car winning margin, was bummed about the loss. But if Edwards was going to lose to anyone, McMurray would be one of the best options.
"My hat is off to him," Edwards told Fox. "He did a great job, he earned it."
Another reason why McMurray likely lost it somewhat Saturday was how difficult of a season he's had thus far. When former teammate Juan Pablo Montoya left Chip Ganassi Racing at the end of last season, it elevated McMurray to the team's No. 1 driver.
Unfortunately, the No. 1 team has been anything but during much of the first 11 races of this season for a variety of reasons, mainly bad luck and mechanical or accident misfortune that have left him with just two top-10 finishes and a ranking of 24th in the Sprint Cup standings.
And then there's the performance of McMurray's new teammate and Montoya's successor, rookie Kyle Larson, who has stolen a number of headlines with his performance thus far this season.
Finally, it was McMurray who stole the headlines Saturday night. While it was not a points-paying race, the $1 million first prize may potentially go a long way toward lifting the monkey that has hung on McMurray's back for the first 11 regular-season races.
Now if he can only take Saturday's triumph and build upon it with a couple of wins in the next 15 races, McMurray will likely qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
There's still lots to do to accomplish such a feat, but Saturday was a start. And if that means there are still more tears of joy left to be shed, well darn it, let 'em fall. McMurray has earned that right—and there's nothing weak about doing so.
Follow me on Twitter @JerryBonkowski
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