The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. The more it bothered me, the more I felt convicted to come clean. The more I felt convicted to come clean, the more ashamed I felt.
Thus, here I am -- prostrate before the world -- preparing to come clean.
Everyone who knows me, know that I am a true Volunteer fan (except to the extent I actually hate Florida more than I love Tennessee ... but that's really just opposite side of the same coin). Hell, I even have this blog filled with all manner of orange and white, linked to every site I can find that even refers to Tennessee. I pay a truly ridiculous amount of money every year to the Athletic Department at Tennessee for the right to buy tickets, and then pay even more to actually purchase those tickets. Having bought those tickets I drive all the way from Raleigh, North Carolina to Knoxville, Tennessee -- about 6 1/2 Hours -- so I can walk through the real Gate 21 and watch the Vols play. I've done this for the entirety of my adult life. To everyone who sees me and knows me, I am a great model of what a Vols fan should be.
But I have a secret -- that is both sordid and detestable...
Though it pains me so, I must come clean to my fellow members of the Orange Nation, and I will bravely take what ever punishment they may mete out to me.
When I was but a young lad, in the seventh grade, I was assigned to write my first term paper. Like most seventh graders, I didn't even begin to think about writing this paper until about two days before it was due. I ended up being drug by my Mother to the library to find something to read and write about. I looked at books on sailboats, a few on the Civil War, a couple about the Queen of England, and one about animal husbandry. None of the topics appealed to me.
Then, out of nowhere, a light shown from the book shelf, and I found two books which would first lead me to realize that I liked to write, would first open my eyes to the real mysteries of football, and -- at the same time -- would fill my soul with dread and shame:
Bear Bryant, Football's Winning Coach
by E. Simpson Smith
The Legend of Bear Bryant
by Mickey Herskowitz
I read those two books a quickly as I could. As a result, I was able to write that first term paper, and I actually managed to get an "A". Still all I have is shame as I reflect back on that paper, entitled:
"Bear Bryant: The Greatest Football Coach of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow"
In that paper, misguided by my innocence and stupidity, I extolled the virtues, heroism, tenacity, and genius of Paul "Bear" Bryant. Of course, the books I read left out all the drinking, cheating, drinking, whoring, drinking, illegitimate children, drinking, lying, drinking, and cross-dressing that we all know to be part of the true Bear Bryant, but that matters little. There was never a greater act of hero worship turned in to Ms. Elliott and her Fifth Period English class.
For this, I am forever ashamed, and forlorn. Though Bear Bryant may have led me to a greater understanding of reading, writing, and of the English language (a comment rarely made about Bear for reasons which are fairly obvious) as a result of that dance with the devil, I am forever marked with that damned scarlet letter.
So, to my fellow Volunteer fans, on this the 25th anniversary of Bear Bryant's death, I ask for your forgiveness. I was led astray, and I have lived a lie. I will suffer the consequences of my actions, but I ask for mercy.
After all, if Johnny Majors hadn't lost so damn many games, maybe I could have found a friggin' book about him...
Image Courtesy of: Alibris and MoBuck.com
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