I don’t know them and they don’t know me. I may meet one or two of them someday, I’ve got an autograph or two from coaches and teams past, but we will likely never know one another. If they win or lose it won’t make much difference in my actual real life. I know all that, yet I can barely contain my excitement. The team I have pulled for with passion since I was 12 years old is going to play for their first national championship since I was a sophomore at a junior college, one year before I would matriculate to the University of Georgia myself. Here is why it matters. Sports, rightly or wrongly, are a big part of our lives. In the South, football particularly, is a big part of our culture. It is so interwoven into the fabric of who we are it is difficult to describe. I hope we can keep it that way. I hope the money and the politics of the day don’t mess it up, but that’s a different blog for a different day. Here is what Georgia football means to me, and why this game looms so large…when it probably shouldn’t.
Georgia Football is Larry Munson playing through a transistor radio on my Pop’s kitchen table when I was 15. He and I were huddled close. We would look at one another wide eyed occasionally but never spoke. We were too locked into the broadcast. Dawgs were playing Kentucky in Lexington., Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that night I would one day live and work near there, and work for the Kentucky Governor no less. Robinson kicked a 29 yarder to win it. Larry cried out, “Watch it…watch it….yeah yeah yeah!!!” I can still remember my Pop looking up and smiling at me. I still see that smile to this day. I lost him in ’95.
Georgia Football is Munson once again, crackling through a nearby pickup speaker on AM radio, the windows down in the early September heat as we stood encircling a dove field in South Georgia with my friends the Cowarts. We wanted to Dove hunt but there was no cause to miss the game. I can’t remember the game but I remember us all talking to one another across the field about the game. Don’t think I shot a dove that day but for some reason the memory lingers and its a good one.
I remember Herschel Walker runs on a snowy TV with a rotary antenna and how we kept adjusting the rotation to try to get a better picture of this kid from Wrightsville we had heard so much about. The picture got fairly clear and then he ran over Bill Bates…My God a Freshman.
I remember my first ever Georgia game in person as they played at Auburn. Attending a real live sporting event had hitherto seemed an impossible dream, but there I was. I was struck by how even the ladies would bark like a dog at the very hint of someone yelling “Go Dawgs”. It was great.
Georgia Football is leaning against a chest cooler at a little country store drinking a Coke out of a green glass bottle that had flecks of ice on it and listening to the men talk about Jeff Pyburn and Willie Mac.
Georgia football is attending my first class at UGA. It was Biology. The class had a couple hundred students in it and I was blown away by that. But I floated all day because I was actually a student at Georgia. I couldn’t believe it.
Georgia football is countless games at Sanford, some with my girlfriend who became my wife and then the mother of my children. Later, when they were old enough, we took them too. There was the one game where we camped nearby, tailgated all day long, and attended a night game. That’s when I discovered 8 hours of tailgating was nearly too much tailgating.
Georgia football is the 2012 SEC title game between the DAWGS and this same Crimson Tide. I attended with good friends. It was one of the greatest games every played and we got our hearts shattered on the 2 yard line as the clock ran out.
Georgia football is a 2008 spur of the moment road trip with my son Nathan from Paducah, Kentucky all the dang way to Jacksonville, Florida to see the Georgia/Florida game. I managed to find a pair of what was then deemed an impossible ticket and Nathan jumped for joy as I bought them for face value. I was a King that day. We lost the game badly, but for the 12 hour drive and the pre-game and the first quarter we had the time of our lives.
Georgia football is going to be about this special magnificent season and sharing it once again with my family and my new son-in-law who pulls for the DAWGS in football because he loves my daughter and the DAWGS have grown on him. We are going to watch tomorrow and we are going to cheer the Bulldogs to victory and that night will become another thread in the tapestry.
The SEC commercial says, “It just means more.” in the SEC. Well, this game means more than it should, but it is what it is…a soundtrack to my life. Something that’s been a part of me as long as I can remember. I’m going to soak it up for all it is worth.