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I’m Often Asked How Someone From Philadelphia Got To Be An Alabama Football Fan

I left Delaware for Alabama in August of 1998. I took a job in Huntsville, Alabama working as an IT contractor for NASA for a year a Marshall Space Flight Center. My year in Huntsville was a trip but maybe I’ll discuss that another time. LOL. So after my year was up and NASA dropped the project I was working on and I couldn’t find another job there I got one up in Memphis.

Oh wait, that’s another story. Ok, so I pack up all my stuff and head South out of Delaware toward Alabama. I left around noon after stopping by the airport where I kept my Cessna to be sure it was tied down good. Who knew how long it would be before I saw it again?

I headed South through Delaware, West to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, over the Bay Bridge to Annapolis… then the beltway around Washington, DC… this is familiar area where I lived most my life but after going halfway around DC I headed West on I66 then down I81 alongside the Skyline Drive… then along the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way before I stopped for the night in Bristol, TN.

The next day I headed West to Knoxville then South cutting the corner of Georgia and into Alabama. Around the time I got to Scottsboro I was getting hungry and thought I’d stop for a sandwich and a beer.

I found a roadside bar and walked in. There was country music – old time stuff like Waylon Jennings – playing on the jukebox and the place was empty except for one dude down the end – like where Norm sat on Cheers. He was looking up at a TV but the sound was off.

The owner or bartender or cook or whoever he was came out. I was feeling out of place so we got to talking and I told him I was headed to Huntsville to work for a year… then I ordered a beer and a sandwich.

He went in the back and I sat down. I sat there for a minute then the guy at the end of the bar looked over at me and in the most redneck Southern drawl I ever heard said “You’re not from around here ARE ya?”.

I said “Nope. I’m from Philadelphia and I’m heading to Huntsville for a year to do some work.”

He waited a minute, took another sip and said “So… Who ya fer?” I looked at him and asked “Who am I FOR?”.

He looked at me again and said “If you’re gonna live in Alabama you got to be for Auburn… or Alabama.” I just stared at him and made my first mistake.

With a wave of my hand I said “Oh… I don’t watch COLLEGE football.” He just looked straight at me like I was some sort of an idiot.

He pointed another boney finger right at me from down the bar and said again… “If you’re gonna live in Alabama… you got to be for Auburn… or Alabama.” Then he said to me “Do you know who Bear Bryant is?”

I was gonna say “Yeah, he’s some dead football coach” but I thought better of it. LOL. I looked around the bar and there were pictures of Bear Bryant everywhere… then I noticed the game on TV was Alabama and Georgia. I looked back at him and said “Yeah, I know who Bear Bryant is…. So I guess I’ll be for Alabama”.

About that time the guy came from the back with my sandwich. The redneck looked over and said “Good choice.” And to the bartender said “Give that man a beer on me.”

And THAT is how I got to be an Alabama fan.

ROLL TIDE!

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