Several years ago, Jerry Seinfeld had a routine called "rooting for laundry". The basic premise was that sports fans who pulled for a team over a long period of time were basically just cheering the uniforms instead of the players, since the players were constantly changing.
I was reminded of this when the video promo for Bama-LSU from the SEC Digital Network was posted here a couple of days ago. I thought of all the great players we have been fortunate enough to see wear the crimson and white over the years.
There are, of course, the names everyone knows, like Namath, Stabler, Jordan, Musso, and so on. But there are so many that contributed greatly that are mostly forgotten, names like Wayne Wheeler, the terrific wideout from the great 1973 team. Names like Calvin Culliver, Willie Shelby, and Steadman Shealy, possibly the best pure Wishbone quarterback Alabama ever produced.
And Lane Bearden, the gutsiest punter who ever lived, kicking with a torn ACL.
And I have a special place in my heart for Dennis Riddle, who danced his way into the end zone to rip a victory away from the Auburn Tigers. His run allowed my Dad to die a happy man.
I had gone home to see my Dad for the last time, going straight to the hospital where he had been for the last few weeks, slowly wasting away with liver cancer. It was hard to see this man who had always been a rock, now confined to a hospital bed, reduced to half his normal weight. It was he who had taught me about Alabama football, taught me to love it.
Some of the last words he was ever able to speak to me were "24-23". That was the code for his new garage door keypad he had just installed the fall before his illness. And, of course, the score of that Iron Bowl game.
Regardless of the outcome of tonight's game, enjoy this year's version of the Tide. It is quite possibly the most talented Crimson Tide team in history and we may never see the likes of it again.
I wish Dad could see it. He'd be proud.
Roll Tide, Dad.