I may have single-handedly cost the Alabama Crimson Tide the 2013 Iron Bowl. How you ask? Let me start off with a little back-story. When I was a kid in the mid to late 1990s, my dad’s best friend had a ceramic statuette of Alabama’s mascot Big Al. Every Saturday during football season my dad and his friend would get together have a few beers and watch the Bama game. At the beginning of each game, they would take turns rubbing Big Al’s head to get the positive juju flowing, and after every win there would be a celebration including a good bit of drunken yelling, screams of “Roll Tide!”, and more rubbing of Big Al’s head. I spent about a year searching for a Big Al statuette similar to the one from my childhood memories, always unable to find one to my satisfaction.
Finally, about a week before the 2013 Iron Bowl, my sister (an Auburn Tigers fan), found a wooden Big Al statuette at a local sports store and asked me if I wanted it. I had doubts about accepting a good luck charm from a fan of the team’s biggest rival, but I decided it was worth the risk and if the Tide lost I would just destroy it. When she gave me the statuette, I was very excited of having a Big Al of my own to have during Bama game’s and celebrate with, especially during such a historic and dominant time for the football program.
My sister, her family, and I spent Thanksgiving and the following weekend, including game day, out of town with some great-aunts, great-uncles, and second-cousins I haven’t seen since I was a kid. The day before the game, my second-cousin made an announcement that any Alabama fans were not allowed to wear Alabama gear in the house on game day because whenever somebody does they lose. I scoffed at this and told her that I would be wearing my Alabama shirt and bringing Big Al because I have never had a problem with them losing when I was showing my support. She was a second-cousin that I hadn’t seen in many years, why should I trust and listen to her on a subject like this?
On game day, I unwrapped Big Al from the National Championship t-shirt that I had wrapped him in for the trip, I put on my own t-shirt, and I was ready for the Iron Bowl. I felt good about the game. I told myself that if Alabama was losing at halftime I would change my shirt. Immediately before the game, I rubbed Big Al’s head just as I remember my dad and his friend doing in my younger years and I prepared for action. From the start of the game, something felt off. The Tide didn’t seem like they were playing the way they should be, but it turned into a good game. I watched the back and forth between the rivals, rubbing Big Al’s head after good plays and booing after bad plays.
At halftime, the Crimson Tide were winning 21-14, nothing to worry about. During the second half, the Auburn run game seemed unstoppable on some drives and then was shut down on others. When Auburn came up to tie it the last time, I was ready to watch A. J. McCarron lead Bama to victory. After the last play, I immediately knew that there should still be one second left on the clock. They would get one last chance to score before overtime. I rubbed Big Al’s head the entire time they reviewed the play and we got the second back. Awesome! The field goal team came on the field and I was confused. Why wouldn’t they try the Hail Mary instead of a 57 yard field goal? Oh well what’s the worst that could happen? The ball is kicked and caught by Chris Davis, Jr. Immediately, everybody in the room was on their feet and yelling. My sister who was in the bathroom came running out and we all watched as Davis ran the ball the distance and scored a touchdown. I was stunned.
I immediately turned to my sister handed her the Big Al statuette and told her I never wanted to see it again. Needless to say, I owed my cousin an apology to which I received a “told you so” in reply. Using a good luck charm purchased by a fan of the rival team and ignoring a warning about my attire in a bad luck zone is how I may have single-handedly cost the Alabama Crimson Tide the 2013 Iron Bowl along with a shot at the SEC Championship and a three-peat as Bowl Championship Series National Champions. Sorry Bama fans.