On Iron Bowl week I always go back and watch some of the classic games from the years. I’ve got most of them on tape all the way back to 1982.
Anyway, tonight I watched the 2003 Iron Bowl on the plains. And if you’re wondering just how important this game is in the state of Alabama, let me tell you this story.
During the 2003 game, ESPN sideline reporter Adrian Karsten (who committed suicide a couple of months ago) interviewed Christopher Bailey, an Alabama cheerleader.
During the interview we learned that young Christopher was a former Auburn cheerleader who transferred to Alabama (because his girlfriend was there) and then tried out for the Bama cheer squad and made the team!
Karsten asked him which team he really pulls for and Bailey told him he was “an Auburn man at heart, but I’m a cheerleader and I cheer for Alabama now.” (don’t you know that made his dad proud as a peacock)
Karsten had young mister Bailey say “Roll Tide” and then “War Eagle”. Well the Tide folks didn’t like that at all. So the next week, the folks at the University of Alabama kicked Bailey off the team.
The Bama newspaper said he was a “marked man” on campus for saying his heart was at Auburn.
Yes this game is big and unless you’ve lived in Alabama during an Iron Bowl it’s impossible to understand the magnitude. Stores close. Streets are as empty as a church parking lot on a Monday. You never worry that some idiot is going to invite you to his wedding on an Iron Bowl Saturday because they wouldn’t be able to find a deejay, a caterer or a preacher willing to work.
My wife is an Alabama fan. With the exception of one year, we never watch this game together. We had just moved to Memphis in 1997 and didn’t have cable in our apartment. The game was on ESPN so we headed to the Fox and Hound for dinner and the game. Bama had a lead with seconds left but fumbled. Auburn kicked a long field goal as time ran out to win.
I found myself jumping and hugging some female Auburn fan as my wife folded her arms and headed for the car.
It’s a fun week.