The gentlemen screaming below (no, not Texas Longhorns receiver Marquise Goodwin) is much more than a GIF: He's Stephen Roberts, a Marine gunnery sergeant and veteran of the Iraq War, as well as the Assistant Marine Officer Instructor for the NROTC program at Ole Miss. The 34-year-old native of Valdosta, Ga., has been a Marine for 16 years, three times winning the "Gung Ho" award for enthusiasm.
Goodwin can now certainly attest to that. First, the GIF, then a word with the man himself:
Roberts earned quick Internet fame in the second quarter of Texas's eventual 66-31 blowout of Ole Miss as Goodwin broke free for a 69-yard touchdown run to put the 'Horns up 17-7. He met Roberts, who oversees the color guard at each Rebels home game. ESPN cameras picked up Roberts angrily objecting to something Goodwin did in the process of scoring a touchdown.
"It was instant," Roberts says. "By the time I got home my phone died from calls and texts, and now it's all over my Facebook."
Conjecture mounted quickly. Most fans and viewers assumed Goodwin attempted to salute Roberts, who as a "Gunny" would strongly object to such a gesture (explained by resident SB Nation USMC advisor Matt Ufford here). Instead, Roberts says that Goodwin attempted something far more foolish:
"As he ran toward me, I could see him start to make the 'shhhhh' motion holding his hand up. I knew behind me was the Texas fan section, and he was staring straight ahead. So I'm thinking, well, I know he’s not 'shhhh-ing' his own people."
As Goodwin started to motion, Roberts responded exactly the way a graduate of Marine drill instructor school would, and Internet gold formed instantly.
"It was hey, don’t hush me, because Marines, well ... we don’t like to be hushed," he says with a laugh.
Regardless of the intent or execution, Roberts shrugs off Goodwin's gesture with good spirit. He even made it a point to hop back on camera following the subsequent commercial break to give a shout-out to all military personnel currently serving.
"You see a lot of people do that on TV, and I know I'd see it when I was overseas, but to have it come from one of our own, to see a gunnery sergeant doing it, I thought that would be special," he says.
Despite the perception created by his newfound fame, Roberts is incredibly affable and not at all scream-y in conversation. He also holds zero ill will towards Texas, and mentioned he spoke to head coach Mack Brown before the game, as one of Roberts' friends had escorted Brown and other college coaches on a visit to military personnel a few years ago.
"I'm not the Alabama guy who poisons trees. There will be no Longhorn hunting, or eating Longhorn steaks, I promise," he says laughing.
"People look at the military in different ways. I grew up a military brat [his father was an Army Ranger] ... my dad loves that I'm a Marine. My mom loves that I'm a Marine. My attitude, it's been like this even before becoming a drill instructor. I won the spirit award in my marching band [Lowndes High School in Valdosta]."
When asked if the clip could inspire a positive recruiting drive for the Marines, Roberts offers up one selling point.
"I can certainly say, if you're looking for motivation in life, that's what it is."
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