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My grandmother begin taking me to Bama football games when I was seven years old. I can still remember the excitement. My first game was when Johnny Musso was running over opposing defenses. I remember Musso was injured in that game and I was so upset that I cried. He sat out one play and was back on the field. I'll never forget that image of Coach Bryant leaning on the goal post. It is forever etched on my brain. It was the beginning of my passion for Bama football. It was unexplainable. When my grandmother passed away two years later, she asked my grandfather to continue taking her boys to every home game. It was important to her because she saw how it impacted our young lives.
When I was a Boy Scout, my brother and I sold drinks at BDS so we could get into the games for free. We watched more football than we sold drinks. I remember getting in trouble from my Scout leader at every game. I would sit down on the steps and watch Bama legends mark their spot in Bama history. Always going back to those games with my grandmother. The beginning of this passion.
In high school my mother was on the teaching staff at the University. One of my best friends was the President of the Universities daughter. This gave me access to players and coaches. My mom's position meant we had tickets to every game. One year we attended every Bama football game, home and away. That year I was allowed to interview Coach Bryant for our high school newspaper. His secretary said, "No!" But Coach Bryant heard the conversation from his office and came out to see what was going on. Two admiring faces staring back at this legend. He smiled and invited us into his office. He was eating an apple. Cutting it with his pocket knife. He offered me a piece. We were so nervous that we forgot all of our questions. He offered advice anyway. He told me to do well in school. "Study hard and treat your parents well." The picture of that day still hangs on my office wall. Those 5 minutes with Coach Bryant permanently engraved in my mind. The year after this unbelievable experience, we attended Bear Bryants funeral. We all mourned as if our own family member died. In essence, he was. A feeling only Bama football fans can understand.
I attended both undergraduate and graduate school at Alabama. Tough years to be a Bama football fan. But the passion and memories carried all of through. We remained loyal and passionate. The memories of Bryant, the dedication from hearts forever committed to Bama football. Some say it's like a religion. In the purest sense of the word, it is. Not that we ever elevated our passion to our spirituality, but that it was in our soul. We hung on. The memories carried us.
When my daughters were old enough to walk, I brought them to the Alabama campus. We walked the Quad and looked at the hand and cleat prints of those Bama legends I watch etch their place in Bama history. The memories come flooding back. I took them to every home game. They were more interested in Big Al than football, but they sensed my passion. It's passed on to another generation. This continues through their high school years. They became tired of all the stories. Both of my daughters probably know more about Bama football history than most fans. Ha.
My oldest daughter graduated from Alabama last year. My youngest is entering her junior year of nursing school this fall. They share their father's passion. I think we've only missed one home game since they were 6 and 8. They never say, "It's just football." They know it's more than that. It's memories and passion, and a way of life.
I love Bama football. But it's more than just the wins and championships. It's the memories, the legacy passed down from several generations. The memories of my grandparents taking their grandchildren to games. Watching my father, a strong-minded man, cry after a loss, his unparalleled elation after a win. My mother's love of Bama football.
On September 1 I will be in Dallas for the start of another season. My family will be with me. Another season of Bama football. The very thought makes me squirm with excitement. This passion in my soul. The memories of the past and those that are yet to be created. I love Bama football.
Beautiful. Thanks for putting all that down. I've got a 3 week old at home and I was wondering the best way to break her in to Bama FB. As soon as she can walk, huh?
This post was edited by Run37 on 8/16/2012 at 4:21 PM
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