I'm not a regular high profile persona on the site but I had to write something because last week when Kleph melted down on the fake meltdown thread I felt that weird feeling you get on Thanksgiving when your two favorite uncles have a scuffle (what?...just me?). The thing is, there are a ton of sites that are "dedicated" to Bama football. Not shocking given the immense tradition and the current level of dominance. There may even be better sites than RBR. I just have not found them. Most sites use basic cookie cutter formats and try to stay on top of news and the feel of the fan base. But NONE offer the combination of insight, original content, humor, and genuine fan reactions as RBR. Each time I check the site I'm just as likely to laugh out loud and frighten my co-workers as I am to think to myself "do I really understand the difference between the wishbone and the flexbone?". But the site goes even deeper sometimes; Social justice, race, gritty (unpopular) history, and the real stories behind the people in this drama that we all are obsessed with. Kleph was a big part of that.
For some reason this year felt worse than others in the dead summer months. Maybe it's being a dad to 2 young kids. Maybe it's just riding the wave of success and feeling hope for more NC's. I don't know. But the "Reading Room" section that Kleph did this year was amazing. Poor writers take advantage of wildly popular things, and few things are more popular than Bama Football. I mostly avoided books because of the predictable reverential format that most take on. Kleph suffered through this tendency to distill it all for us.
When he reviewed "Above The Noise of the Crowd" I immediately went on Amazon to get it. I bet John Forney's heirs would have liked a heads up. Cheapest copy was $120. I grumbled to my wife about how it had been touted as the "best book ever" about Bama and how it was way out of our price range. She surprised me a month later by finding a dealer in Birmingham willing to part with a copy for $45 (signed no less).
Being 36 it's hard to put into context the Bryant era. This book bridges that gap. We know about the championships, the players, the legends. But the stories are dry. They are myths. The men are characters in a dramatic movie. Nothing but catch phrases and stoic glances. I read the stories and felt I was there drinking a bourbon with the voice of the Tide in New Orleans. I felt the tension that everyone felt around the Bear. I understood the level of reverence that was appropriate for Lee Roy Jordan. Without the effort of Kleph there is no way I would have ever found this book.
We are all worse off if he chooses not to contribute anymore.
I also miss the meltdown thread.