January 10th, 2011. College footballs National Championship game. Auburn footballs biggest game and quite possibly one of the greatest days of my life.
All day we were rejected on tickets. At one point offering an Oregon fan $5,000 for 4 in the upper deck. My mom and I got a table in the hotel lobby with a side view of a static filled 32″ Insignia tv to watch the game. My brother (also an alumni) and his wife were in the room watching the pre-game. It was one hour to kickoff. We were all defeated.
When our old boss texted my brother and said, “a couple of the players families planes were cancelled in Atlanta because of weather and the Auburn box office was selling their tickets for face value”. He came down to the lobby and said, “Let’s go! We didn’t come all the way to Arizona to watch it in a hotel. We’re getting in that game.”
We get to the box office. My brother goes to the scalping section one last time while my mom stood 30th or so in line. It was such a mad house that she wiggled her way to about 5th by the time the windows opened (still not sure how she pulled that one off). Because of her being a quick thinking determined German, she offered to pay for the guy in front of her’s ticket if he asked for 2, thinking at least 3 of us could go (that would have been an awkward moment for the four of us). When he got to the window he asked for 2 and then goes “and 2 more for my friend behind me” as he turned to show them my mom. After the transaction, it was so chaotic, the lady must have forgot what just happened and asked my mom how many. Not missing a beat she said two. Totaling 5. As she left the line (holding the tickets for dear life) she mouthed to us “I got them!” We threw our arms in the air and all hugged each other. It was 5 min before kickoff. My brother handed me the one that was the single and I said, “I’ll go sell it. You guys get in that game”. I sold it to an alum who’s wife and sister unselfishly insisted he get in the game and to not worry about them. We both sprinted to the gate, shook hands and parted ways with a War Eagle.
Because our player was injured on the kick return, there was a long delay and I only missed the kickoff (Oh… that player happened to be the very guy who, well I will just say :01 and Chris Davis Jr.). I get trough the gate, run through the tunnel of Cardinals Stadium to reveal the National Championship. A light haze in the air from the opening fireworks. The sound of the Auburn band playing our fight song to my left. Orange and blue. Green and yellow. We out numbered Oregon by so much the stadium should have read Jordan-Hare. The feeling I had in that very moment was something I may never experience again. The mixture of my love for Auburn, a day of swinging emotion and the atmosphere was so overwhelming that it moved me to tears. I walked down the aisle and realized that our seats were only a few rows from the field. Then spent the entire game screaming as loud as possible with my mom, brother and sister-in-law. We hugged, celebrated, shook our shakers, went crazy when Michael Dyer’s knee wasn’t down and ended the night smoking a victory cigar (a tradition my brother and I do after every big win).
It’s moments like that, that mean more then any amount of money or any problem life brings and will always keep me appreciative of every day I get to be alive. The games are not what make college football great. The story of how you spent the time during and where you were when (a tipped 4th & 18 desperation 75 yd Hail Mary just happened to land in the hands of Ricardo Lewis or calling my since passed grandma an hour before every kickoff to make sure she had the right channel for “her Auburn Tigers”), that’s what makes it so special.
The only thing that could have made that day better was if my father and oldest brother were there. I guess we will have to correct that on January 6th, 2014…. War Eagle.