(Note – this blog post will also be appearing at http://blog.dsmithimages.com/2011/08/14/rivals-united-alabama-vs-auburn-alumni-flag-football-game-081311/)
By now, we are all aware of the devastation left by the tornadoes that struck Alabama on April 27th. We are also aware of the immediate outpouring of support and help shown by people not only in this state but throughout the country. An interesting side point to this outpouring was when the incredibly heated Alabama and Auburn rivalry took a back seat as the two fan bases came together to help out across Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. The rivalry had, unfortunately, taken a bad turn in the months leading up to the storm as the bulk of level headed fans on both sides had to deal with the Harvey Updyke nonsense along with a seemingly endless stream of venom spewed on talk radio and message boards.
On Saturday August 13th, former players from both Alabama and Auburn came together at Spain Park High School in Hoover to put on a charity flag football game to benefit tornado relief across the state. The heated rivalry between the two teams took a back seat again as both fan bases got a chance to see the old timers have a little fun on the field and represent their schools once more.
With Governor Robert Bentley flipping the coin and other dignitaries surrounding the sideline, the event turned out to be a pleasant success for those in attendance. Some players had definitely lost a step or ten, while others looked incredibly sharp. I was on hand to photograph it for Wellthatscool.com so there was a definite focus on the Alabama side of things since, after all, Tuscaloosa is home.
The game itself was a back and forth encounter, but the ending saw Alabama prevail. Andrew Zow threw the game winning touchdown pass and two point conversion to secure the 42-41 victory. Former Alabama great Siran Stacy was named the M.V.P. of the game, but honestly, everyone that participated should be commended and thanked. The media on hand should also be commended for making it a point to celebrate the atmosphere at the game, while condemning the few idiots on both sides who try to ruin this rivalry for everyone. Is the Alabama/Auburn rivalry heated? Absolutely. It always will be. Does that mean either side has to resort to desperate measures to get ahead? Not at all. Settle it on the field and be done with it.
After the game, a colleague got to interview former Alabama great Wesley Britt for a few moments. Wesley and his family were in the direct path of the storm, and thankfully, they made it through unscathed. Hearing him recount that and life in general after playing in the NFL for a few years definitely put things in perspective.
If you want to check out the full gallery of photos from this event, you can do so by visiting http://www.dsmithimages.com/site/events/rivals-unite-for-recovery-8-13-11/1/
Please continue to remember and support the people impacted by the events of April 27th. Recovery isn’t just limited to rebuilding structures. Remember those that will forever be changed by what happened.