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Why I’m a Fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide

It involves a blocked punt


Welcome to the refreshed Team Speed Kills! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well.

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November 14, 1992

It was a Thursday night and I was nine. I have responsible parents, so they mandated I be in bed by 8:30 on a school night.

Thursday night games are par for the course nowadays, but they were equally prevalent back in the early 90s, especially in college football. On this day, the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide traveled to Starkville to take on the #16 Mississippi State Bulldogs.

My Dad is Alabama football in my mind. He’s Tuscaloosa. He’s what I view as the good that has come out of a state with many skeletons. He was born in Tuscaloosa County, raised across the Warrior River in Northport and attended the University of Alabama.

Since marrying my mom and moving from Jonesboro, Arkansas (where I was born) to Murfreesboro, Tennessee (where I was raised), he’s rarely deviated from his game day spot: three feet catty cornered from the television looking left.

At this point in my life, I was a fan of Michael Jordan and Dale Jarrett. College football was something I ignored on Saturdays. My Mom went to Tennessee, so late Octobers were stressful and I figured I’d just sneak watch professional wrestling in the morning and evening (I was banned from it at the time).

On this Thursday evening, though, most likely I was avoiding doing my homework (what was homework in 3rd grade--any of my younger colleagues at TSK please let me know) and so I sat on the couch and began to watch the game with my dad.

It was cool. Nothing too spectacular. Some typical Jay Barker/Alabama offense and a defense that would become the measuring stick for all future Alabama defenses.

Alabama was up 7-0 and Mississippi State’s offense stalled deep in their own territory. The ball was snapped for the Bulldog punt and busting through a line of maroon giants, came a quick-footed cornerback wearing #43. It all happened so damn fast, I had no idea how to process.

He blocked the punt, picked it up at the five yard line and ran it in for the touchdown. His name was Antonio Langham and I was enraptured. I couldn’t believe that this was football. I couldn’t believe that this was college football. What the hell had I been missing and why had you not told me about it?

The Tide went up 14-0. By halftime, they were up 20-3 and while not possessing any experience on how these games went, I ascertained that things were good. It did not remain this way.

By the end of the third quarter, the Bulldogs scored 18 unanswered points, putting them up 21-20. Then, my parents made me go to bed. I had to go to bed with an entire season on the line.

First thing the next morning, I ran downstairs to the kitchen and asked Dad if the Tide won the game. I cared. I went to bed thinking about it and woke up doing the same. Fortunately, he informed me that the final score was 30-21. I was immediately relieved.

I watched the final three games of the season, including a national championship win over Miami in the 1993 USF&G Sugar Bowl. Gene Stallings’ bunch finished 13-0 and I was in.

Since, I’ve watched mediocrity under the likes of Mike Dubose, Dennis Franchione and Mike Shula (Anyone remember that 2000 season?) and have witnessed a rebirth unlike anything we’ve seen in modern day college football.

I’m incredibly lucky as a fan, because based off the previous decade before Nick Saban’s arrival, there were few expectations that could be mined. I could develop a love for cinema that would take me all the way to graduate school. I could listen to more music. I could feel I had a life outside of football.

That all changed on January 4, 2007.

Why am I fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide? A man named Phillip Waldrop and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown. Roll Tide.

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