Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

September 7, 2003


Yes, Hank and Britney, I am ready for some football!


            I do not need the entertainment hype to whip up my appetite for football. I can endure the heat of summer only because I know the football season is about to begin, ushering in my favorite time of the year.

            The NFL thinks differently, however. A few years ago, with Howard Cosell gone, they brought in Hank Williams Jr. to ask us on Monday nights, “Are you ready for some football?” I did not mind that, although I would have much preferred for Hank to sing his dad’s old song, “Your Cheating Heart.”

            This past Thursday night the NFL marketing geniuses put on quite a spectacle to open the season in the nation’s capital. In case you missed it, before the game there was a three-hour concert featuring Britney Spears, Aerosmith, Mary J. Blige, and Aretha Franklin.

            Not that it matters to the NFL, but I did not need the concert. Britney Spears is synonymous now with repulsive in my book. She has a right to kiss Madonna if she wants to, but I also have a right to think that the sight of her doing it is nauseating.

            Aretha Franklin can still scream with the best of them, but she must be hard up for engagements these days. And Mary J. Blige – who on earth is she? Somehow I missed her emergence as a super star.

            While I am in a negative frame of mind, I might as well get another thing off my chest. I do not need sweet Heather or cute Lisa doing interviews on the sidelines during the games. Now all the networks have a pretty girl roaming the sidelines ready to chat with an injured player or to squeeze a one-liner from one of the coaches.

            How charming! But who needs it? No matter how hard I try to accept this new role for women, I find it impossible to embrace it. It is simply incongruous to me, and my wife adds a hearty Amen to my opinion.

            It would be easier to accept if the networks were fair, but alas, they are not. None of the cute little ladies with the microphones are chubby, homely, or middle-aged. No sir, every one of them is a cutie pie, young and shapely.

            One more thing that needles me is the beer commercials. I am sick to death of the loud insanity that portrays the way men whoop it up on a night out with the boys. Whatever happened to the calm commercials that had a man standing in the snow beside a cool mountain stream?

            What has beer got to do with football anyway? I have never known a coach who offered his players “a cool one” before or after a football game. The beer people obviously have a lot of money, but as much chicken as I have bought, I would think KFC could afford to buy some time during the football games.

            So much for my complaining. I want to affirm a few things I do like. While I like football in general, my first choice is high school football. College is my next choice, and the NFL last.

            Football helps boys to become men in high school. The discipline is valuable. Even more helpful is that football teaches boys how to work together as a team. Success in life requires teamwork and few things teach this more effectively than football.

            I miss walking the sidelines with the Opelika High School Bulldogs. What I liked most of all, however, was observing Coach Spence McCracken teach the Dawgs to work as a team. He inspires his boys to win as a team, so they learn the value of pulling for one another. That is a key lesson for successful living, whether in athletics or any other endeavor.

            Win, lose, or draw, I am an Auburn man. I like Coach Tommy Tuberville as a coach and as a man. Like McCracken, he is an excellent coach who uses football to teach men valuable lessons about life. Though I was sick about the loss to USC, I am confident the Tigers will rebound and win the SEC Championship.

            Presently I have no favorite NFL team, though I lean toward the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers. For several years I pulled for the New Orleans Saints, but I finally gave up on them. Now that I am an old codger, I like to pull for old men to do well, so I am keeping an eye on Emmett Smith at Arizona.

            So, the fall is here, and the football season has begun. With or without Britney Spears and Hank Williams Jr., I am ready for some football. Bring it on!  + + + +