Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Bloody-Knuckle Tennessee Story

It's Tennessee week for Alabama fans.

This week Tide fans are staring at a game in Neyland Stadium against perhaps the weakest Vol team in 20 years. It doesn't lessen the anticipation, though. Ever since Phil Fulmer worked to take down Alabama with the Albert Means situation, Tide fans fume at Tennessee. We want to make Fulmer pay; we want him to suffer. So pardon us all if we're a little less than sympathetic to the notion that Fulmer currently sits on a hot seat. We're just thrilled if we're the ones who are allowed to figuratively act as the executioner.

The rivalry pre-dates that drama, though. It goes back to the early days of college football when Tennessee & Alabama were the two pre-eminent football schools in the south. It's not the oldest rivalry in the world: that distinction belongs to Auburn/Georgia. But it's still one of the longest-running & most exciting. There's even a fantstic blog dedicated to it now: The 3rd Saturday in Blogtober.

I have one good Tennessee story to share in terms of my own personal fanhood. I shared it on a 'Bama message board a few months ago, and I thought I'd re-print it here for Tennessee week. Hopefully it'll give you an idea of just how big and captivating this game is for folks on both sides of this border-war rivalry. Enjoy...

It was October of 2000, and I was watching the Alabama/Tennessee game on TV on the first floor of my townhouse. It had a low ceiling, and just above the couch was a ceiling fan. At one point, 'Bama had the ball and running back Brandon Miree broke off a 30-yard run all the way down to the 2 or 3 yard line. I was so excited that I jumped up. And when I did that, I completely busted out the light fixture attached to the ceiling fan & sent shattered glass everywhere.

First thing I did: I literally had to pull out a couple of shards of glass that were sticking out of my knuckles.

Second thing: I quickly slipped on my loafers so I wouldn’t step on any broken glass (which was all over the room).

Third thing: I ran to the kitchen -- breaking even more glass underfoot -- to get some paper towels to stick on my bleeding fingers.

And I very skillfully managed to do all that & navigate my way back in front of the television to catch the next play! I was hopeful I would be able to put off cleaning up the mess & tending my wounds in order that I could watch us score. I wasn’t going to miss it!

The very next play, however, we fumbled on the goal-line & gave the ball back to Tennessee. Sulking, I then went and treated my cut up fingers & swept up the glass.

I think that just about sums up the 2000 season for Tide fans.

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