Monthly Archives: May 2014

My Friend Died Today

A legend died today. His name was Jimbo and he taught me how to tailgate. Now, we’ve all seen those overdone displays of tailgating with the inflatable tents, chandeliers, and party trailers equipped with port-o-potty and plasma screen. But, the essence of the tailgate isn’t in the toys. Tailgating encompasses what we are as people. The ability to serve as congenial host to both home team and visiting foe is more than courtesy; it is quite simply what should be done. Jimbo defined this.

When I met him, he wanted you to have the cornbread. This cornbread was made with jalapeño and habanera. You survive the heat and you made a friend for life. I bit into this breaded lava and began to sweat immediately. He simply put his arm around me and reached into the closest cooler. He rummaged the bottles of beer explaining why each failed to meet my desire to put out the fire in my mouth. He finally explained that the beer in the back cooler must be colder. By the time he found the beer for me I had already thrown two pieces of ice into my mouth. We laughed and I slammed that beer.

Others would find that his recipe for crown and coke called for the smallest splash of coke known to man. When visiting fans joined us, whether we brought them or they just wandered up, he got their take on the game, poured them a drink, and offered them great shrimp. Obviously more than just he could claim responsibility for the hospitality bestowed upon those lucky enough to say hello. But, for many of us, Jimbo will always be the paragon of tailgating.

So, tonight we raise a glass to the man who taught so many how to be a great host. Others can overcompensate with grandiose displays of fake fandom. Others can be the Johnny-come-latelys and wannabes. Jimbo was old school. Win or lose a smile graced his face. A win brought celebration and the unfortunate loss an opportunity to show what we were made of and his words “when you spread those newspapers out tomorrow, what will you find?” It’s only been a few hours, my friend, but I already miss you greatly. Roll Tide, anyway.

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Observation on the Obvious

Welcome to my two cents. The media is a-buzz about Michael Sam being drafted. I would like to go on record on this wonderful tool we call the internet. Now, it has been 400 forevers since I strapped on pads. At the same time, a team is a team whether your job is to tackle somebody or build a better widget. It is important to remember that Michael Sam is not the first gay player in the NFL. He is just the first with either the societal opportunity/courage to step out and proclaim his sexual persuasion. According to everything I’ve read concerning those who came before him who were unable to comfortably able to speak freely, the teammates have never showed anything other than the desire to work together and win. Now, I’m not naïve enough to think that the world was sunshine and unicorns, but it is better than outright locker room ostracization that one might expect.

So here’s the deal. While Sam is a true football player who dominated the college game, let’s remember the number of Heisman Trophy winners who have done NOTHING in the NFL. The Heisman goes to the most outstanding player in college ball. The co-SEC Defensive player of the year even has to deal with the jump to the next level. Even the Heisman runner up this year was a late round pick and he owns three national championship rings.  Sam has been blessed by finding an opportunity to make the team on his merits as a player. I for one am pulling for him, cause he has game.

One day we will not look at a player because of what he looks like, who he dates, or who he prays to. I am a solid college football fan. My favorite pro team has not won a league championship in my lifetime. I will safely say I would be proud to claim Sam as a fellow alum of a member of my favorite team. Alas, he is neither. But I  will be watching his progress and wishing him well. But if we are to truly live in a society in which all are considered equal, then let’s hope he earns that spot on the roster for something other than marketing.