I'm on my laptop that I've had since I was in college. I got it towards the middle part of 2008. The white cover is chipped a bit past the key boards. The keys are a bit stained on the outer edges and the damn thing won't stay on unless the cord is connected. If someone walks by and kicks it, poof, it's gone.
I hope that wasn't important.
But it is on this old laptop that I found some blast from the past videos. Me and some friends had used the built in camera to film goofiness. Nothing the rest of the internet would appreciate, just some frat boy looking dudes with southern accents saying random things they thought was funny at the time. The person portraying me in the film seemed a bit skinnier and had a better hairline. In 2008 that was a 22 year old and the last time he had seen Alabama win a national championship he had been 6.
There's another video I stumbled across. It was only numbered, which inspired fear of what a college student might find as a good video to download from the internet. I hit the mute button and opened the video. It was a news conference set before a background of Alabama Crimson Tide symbols. Mute button not needed.
In it was the presentation of the Dick Butkus award to Rolando McClain.
In it there is a brief intro by some aide then Dick Butkus gets up and says some words. He advertises for a charity of some sort and talks about the significance of the award and way Rolo deserves it. He then gestures to a young man huge in stature. Rolo looks a bit awkward. He has a long sleeve button up shirt under a vest. The shirt isn't tucked in and some sort of cell phone hip holder messes with his shirt. He looks uncomforatble in front of the camera. He is the most talented linebacker in the country leading the best defense in the country for the team that would win the national championship.
This is not the picture you will find if you google image search Rolando McClain.
What you will find is Rolo of today. Haunted by trouble, retired from football, and trying to get his life back together. I wish him luck. I just didn't see it coming.
No one ever does. And here is the very long point I have and will continue to beat around. This can't last forever.
It's not the kind of thing you want to hear right before the football season starts but that doesn't make it any less true. But it's an important perspective to have, now more than ever.
This run of success doesn't define being a die hard Alabama fan or a Gump or a Bammer. That's something completely different that we defined for ourselves outside of the winning. A lot of it is bat shit insane confidence with a healthy dose of complete lack of self awareness in the face of a skeptical and judgmental world. A good deal of this is rooted in a program that has just done a lot of winning throughout the years. So we aren't defined simply by having a winning program, but our outlook and general demeanor is sort of, well, molded by it. We don't need to be the best team in college football to act this way. It just kind of helps.
That 22 year old kid would call Alabama the greatest program in college football. He was coming off a year in which Alabama had lost to Louisiana-Monroe and during the bowl game against Colorado ESPN was jokingly running a statistic of amount of money spent on NIck Saban for each of the six wins Alabama had achieved that year. Six wins.
But even after losing that hard and being that deep into a pit of sports suck, that 22 me was certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that Alabama was the best in history. He knew every national championship by heart, having only seen one as a small child. He knew that Alabama had a winning record against every SEC opponent and more SEC titles than any other school. He hadn't seen Alabama beat Auburn in six years and when John Parker Wilson scored to beat LSU in 2008 he would cry because it had been so very long since Alabama had won a game that big.
That Bammer had never seen the dynasty that his parents had told him about all his years. That kid was used to seeing Alabama go to the Georgia Dome to lose the SEC to Florida. His parents talked about showing up to games expecting to win and he was just glad that the Tennessee streak was over. He was a Mike Shula kid god bless him, a Mike Dubose kid god bless him, and a Dennis Franchione kid that son of a bitch.
But he was still a pissy obnoxious Bammer with virtually no real world experience at ever being a part of they mythology of Alabama because "that's who we are."
Let me stop the rambling nature of this and say that at this point I could do what everyone does for their university and pontificate on how special being us is. I could imply that other alumni, students, and fans just don't get it. They aren't worthy and are intimidated by our specialness. That our traditions are unique and special in comparison to everywhere else and blah blah blah.
I'm not going to hit you with that rah rah shit. The things that are unique to us are unique to us because we are us. They aren't special. Everyone has their own variation of it and to be outside of the group makes it less so. It's all the same stuff just in slightly different bags. An Auburn fan calling themselves a family is utterly ridiculous to me. To me Smokey, Reveille, and Uga are just dogs. But to them it is a special calling. It doesn't make sense to me and you because we aren't part of it.
So I don't need to write about the merits of us. You get it.
What I wanted to say, and what we all need to do as a culture, is to fill our tanks. Soak this shit up.
We are always going to say how amazing and storied our program is. We are going to be unabashedly obnoxious about it, like walking into the 2004 Iron Bowl thinking we're about to win by thirty. The two best coaches in history are Bear Bryant and Nick Saban and please sit down so I can spend the next thirty minutes explaining this.
This is why there needs to be some absorption because this is our Halley's comet.
Reality has somehow decided to run parallel to our delusion and insanity.
We really are the best of the best against all odds and conventional reason. We got a national championship without winning our conference. We were out of the national title game for one week before the two teams in front of us lost. For the first time in my life I really do walk into every single game expecting the easy Alabama win and it is probably going to happen. We've won three titles in four years.
It's like we got a damn Greek god of football thinking up mayhem that always works in our favor.
We are the Bammer's that speak the truth and as statistically unlikely that it happened it is statistically likely that it will very soon stop happening. Historically speaking this isn't going to happen for us. Three peats just don't happen. Injuries, bad bounces, bad calls, and dumb luck will almost certainly get in our way.
But that's just logic talking. We as a whole are going to ignore that entire train of thought because, again, that's us.
Me? I'm having serious non ironic conversations with my friends if we can really afford to travel all the way to Pasadena this year. Seriously, why can't they all just be in New Orleans?
So go into each game with that unhinged confidence of a mad man. You were going to do it anyway. Johnny Football? Revenge beat down. LSU? Not going to take it easy on them this time. SEC Championship? Our birthright. The big one? I feel sorry for whoever has to play us.
But in the back of our minds where we store what little rational thought we have left we have remember that sports aren't exempt from life. Rolando McClain was one of the best linebackers in 2009. He went back to Decatur and life ended that. It is not guaranteed that he will ever be that way again, but I sure as hell am cheering for him. Everything is fragile. Everything ends. That's what makes what's valuable to you valuable.
Be the best most pure form of a Bammer that you can be for as long as we can be it.
It's all just one bad bounce, one trip over the wire, and...