An amazing mixture ...

Has it really been 50 years since I sat in the upper deck at Birmingham’s Legion Field as a 13-year-old and watched Auburn beat Alabama 10-8 and break a four-year drought?

Has it really been 31 years since I watched Alabama rally in the fourth quarter to beat Pat Dye’s first Auburn team and make Bear Bryant the winningest major college of all-time?

Has it really been going on 41 years since Bill Newton blocked two punts and David Langner ran them both in for touchdowns and Auburn beat Alabama 17-16?

Has it really been going on 42 years since I watched Pat Sullivan lock up the Heisman Trophy with four touchdown passes at Georgia and 30 years since Bo ran and ran and Auburn won its first SEC championship since 1957?

Has it really been 27 years since Sonny Smith's Auburn basketball team was literally a shot away from the Final Four?

Has it really been 30 years since the word of Bryant’s death spread throughout the country and almost 33 years since gentlemanly but tough-as-nails Shug Jordan succumbed to leukemia on the same day my oldest son was born?

Has it really been almost 36 years since a pretty little girl named Teresa Littlejohn said “I do” and became Teresa Marshall? Has it really been almost 35 years since my breath was taken away by the sight of the little girl who was my first-born? Almost 26 years since the doctor handed me my baby son to carry to the nursery at Jackson Hospital in Montgomery?

Do I really have four grandchildren and a fifth on the way?

Has it really been almost more than 43 years since I walked into the Huntsville News building on my first day as a sports writer, ill-qualified and scared to death?

Sometimes, I wake up in the mornings and marvel that I really am 63 years old.
There was a time when I thought 63 was really, really old, but I’m frequently reminded of something my grandfather once told me. “Old age,” he said, “is always 10 years in front of you.” There is a lot of wisdom in that statement.

It’s a cliché, but it’s oh so true. Time flies when you are having fun. And my goodness, I have had oh so much fun.

My job has taken from the New York City to Hawaii, from Miami to Vancouver and points in between. I’ve covered games that few people cared about and games watched by tens of millions. Lord willing, I cover some more before I’m done.

I’ve seen celebrations and I’ve seen tears. I’ve seen the downtrodden rise up and I’ve seen the mighty fall.

In the end, it all comes together in an amazing mixture that captivates so many. Whether you call Auburn or Alabama or some other school or some other team your own, disappointment eventually gives way to excitement. Excitement eventually gives way to disappointment.

Sometimes my job is to report what is not pleasant, and no reporter should ever apologize for the truth. But cynicism is not my thing. There are those who believe that’s a drawback, and maybe they are right. But I have looked for the best in people for as long as I can remember, and I don’t believe I’m going to change at this late date.

If I have one wish all those who follow the games people play in our state and beyond, it is they enjoy the good times and that they deal with disappointment with the knowledge that better days are ahead, that they appreciate the price paid by the young men and women who play and that they appreciate how fortunate we all are to be part of it all.

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