The only thing better than 100,000 plus fans packed into Bryant-Denny Stadium with the Million Dollar Band playing in perfect time, color guards waving flags with “A”’s on them, and witnessing a sea of crimson jersey’s bust out of the end zone and onto the field before a home football game is when a fly over by the United States Air Force is scheduled to make an appearance as well...
My devotion to the Alabama Crimson Tide was determined long before I was born but the interesting thing is that I very well could have been a Georgia Bulldogs fan. When you take a look at our family tree, there are several instances where that should have been the case. So you may be wondering...what’s a nice girl like me leading the trash talking (It’s clean, I promise!) in Section K, Row 6, Seat 19 in Bryant-Denny Stadium at every home game in Tuscaloosa? Surprisingly, my grandparent’s career paths had a lot to do with it. World War II, a need to move the medical school from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham, and a car ride when I was in first grade sealed my fate as one of the biggest Alabama football fans ever and prevented me from striking up Glory, Glory.
My dad’s father was a doctor teaching and researching medicine at Emory University just outside of Atlanta when Dr. Raymond Paty, the University of Alabama President at the time, asked my grandfather to move their 2 year medical program from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham to start a 4 year program. He was charged with securing the very best doctor’s from across the country to build the foundation of what is now UAB. One of the perks that came with being a faculty member was the pair of 50 yard line tickets to Alabama home football games at Legion Field. Let’s just say, he was hooked.
Mymom’s parents grew up in Georgia and were huge Bulldogs fans but moved to Mobile during World War II. My grandfather, Doc, was chosen to head up the first dental unit at Brookly Field by way of a military order. They soon settled in to life on the Bay and a social calendar filled with Mardi Gras balls and deep sea fishing trips in the summer. As with any newcomer to the state of Alabama, you had to profess an allegiance to one of the major Universities. So Alabama it was and soon that commitment was passed down to their children.
My mom attended the University when Bear Bryant and Alabama football was at one of its peaks. Joe Namath was quarterback and the Crimson Tide won National Championships 3 of the 4 years she was there. She completely engrossed herself in campus life, where she served as a Corolla Beauty and an active member of the Greek system. My uncle went to school there too. He signed on to be a cheerleader to ensure he wouldn’t miss any of the games.
So you may be wondering, when exactly did I accept the Alabama Crimson Tide into my heart? Well let me fill you in on the juicy scoop…
I was in first grade. My brother and my dad were talking football. I decided to join in the conversation not really knowing what I was talking about.
“What’s the Iron Bowl?” And with that, the quizzing began.
“The football game this weekend… between Alabama and Auburn.”
I knew what a football game was but I didn’t know who we were rooting for. How should I know anyway? Did I mention I was in first grade?
“So… who do we like?” I glanced over at the two of them. Their eyes met and they exchanged smug grins. My brother pounced.
"Who are you pulling for? Do you even know?” One Mississippi…two Mississippi…the pressure was on to come up with the right answer. Alabama? Auburn? My cheeks were pink and felt warm. It seemed like such a difficult decision at the time. I certainly didn’t want to be razzed relentlessly by the guys. I would never hear the end of it. I quickly weighed the possibilities before hesitating slightly, “…Al-Alabama?”
“You’re right," my dad said. "We pull for Alabama.” I swung open the passenger door of the tiniest little baby convertible you’ve ever seen, a gift from a client (He always seemed to bring home the most random things from folks.) I put my right foot on the pavement and peeled my sticky left thigh away from my brothers who had been sitting halfway on the gear shift and half way in the bucket seat. Alabama, I thought. Well okay. Let’s get busy.
Once I declared it, I owned it, and professed it relentlessly in class, on the playground, and to friends everywhere. The only time I was ever pulled aside by a teacher growning up was when I was in 4th grade for razzing an Auburn fan "relentlessly" (apparently) in class the week after our big Iron Bowl win...his mom felt like I had pushed the "fun" a little too far...oops.
Not until I got a little older did I stop and take a look at my family roots and history to understand how it had become such a huge part of our genealogy. For me, that’s where the passion began. Oh, and did I mention that I married the gentleman in Seat 20? Marrow. You’ve probably seen him on the Jumbo Tron because he never sits down during four quarters of play. They especially like to zoom in on him when things aren’t looking that great for the Tide, shaker in hand, yelling moral support to the players on the sidelines…it’s quite dramatic.
So get to stocking your closet with fresh crimson garb because it's about to get rowdy below the Mason-Dixon... especially in the houndstooth captial of the South.