It seems Thanksgiving and the end of football season gets here a little quicker each year. It's almost unfair that baseball and basketball can linger on forever, yet the game we love most comes and goes within a matter of weeks. So here we are again, the end of another football season and the beginning of another round of holiday madness.
If you've been a reader of Track'em Tigers over the past three years you know that one of my favorite things to do each Thanksgiving is to stop and give thanks for all the many blessings I've received in life. This is hardly an original idea. For as long as I can remember, I've been getting up on Thanksgiving morning and racing to the paper box to grab a copy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to read writer Furman Bisher's annual holiday column. Nowadays, I just crank up the computer - and no, it's not the same.
Bisher retired earlier this year after more than half a century behind the typewriter. Maybe it's fitting that his career comes to an end at a time when the newspaper business is also taking its last breath. He will be remembered as perhaps the greatest sports writer in the history of the South. I hope he won't mind if I take a page from his playbook and share with you all that I'm thankful for this year. Without further ado...
- I'm thankful that for the past 16 years I've called the same woman my wife. I guess these days that's a lot of years. Talking her into marrying and staying with me is the crowning achievement of my life. If I never do another thing else, I've done pretty well.
- I'm thankful for the hiring of Gene Chizik as Auburn football coach. He wasn't my first, second or tenth choice, but I'm sure glad he's here now. He may not become the next Jordan, Dye or Tuberville, but he sure carries himself the way an Auburn football coach should. He's been nothing but class since his arrival.
- I'm thankful for two of the greatest kids in the world. There's not enough money in the world to replace the feeling of seeing them come through the door each evening. I don't deserve them, but I'm sure glad God sent them my way.
- I'm thankful for Chris Todd and Kodi Burns. Their pictures will never be on the side of the stadium, but the lessons I've learned from them this year are more important. The next time you face adversity at work, stop and think about these kids and what they've been through on the football field and how they've handled it. It's better than any self-help book.
- I'm thankful for the 13 years I had with my Newfoundland - the best dog a man can have. As I write, I do so with a heavy heart. Today, I had to put him to sleep after a short illness. As you can imagine, he's become family after all these years and right now I feel like I've been punched and kicked in the heart a thousand times. To borrow a line from the Georgia faithful, "He was a damn good dog."
- I'm thankful for people like Jana Tarleton. As president of the Columbus/Phenix City Auburn Club, she started a program called Tigers For Heroes. Each week she searches all across the Tiger Nation for Auburn football tickets to give out to service members who were injured in combat. What started as something small has grown quickly. Thanks to her, these deserving veterans are getting a chance to feel the Auburn Spirit.
- I'm thankful for all the many regulars here at Track'em Tigers. I can't thank you enough for spending part of your day with us. Reading your comments, I realize I'm not nearly as smart or knowledgeable as you are about Auburn football. One of the highlights of my day is reading your thoughts.
- I'm thankful for Thom Gossom. The former Auburn player helped break the color barrier on The Plains and now shares his story with others. Thom's experience at Auburn was not like most, yet he still loves his school and continues to be a tremendous ambassador. Do yourself a favor and pick up his book, Walk On. It's a must read for all Auburn people.
- I'm thankful for the three guys that share the stage with me here at Track'em Tigers. They are simply the best. Not only are they great writers and knowledgeable about Auburn football, but most importantly they care. Keeping up a daily blog is not easy - especially in March. Yet they always come up with interesting stories. It's a pleasure working with each of them.
- I'm thankful for Coke in a stadium cup at Jordan-Hare. Is it just me or do cokes taste better at Pat Dye Field than anywhere else on earth? And no, it's not the bourbon.
- I'm thankful for our visitors from other schools. There are a number of Alabama, LSU and Georgia fans who visit TET regularly and share great insight and enjoy the rivalry between the schools. Football is a lot more fun when fans can discuss it intelligently.
- I'm thankful for the new SEC television agreement and big screen televisions. I'm not a fan of SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, but I have to give him props for the new television deal. Having access to every SEC game, every week is unbelievable. It's hard to believe that growing up, I spent most of my Saturday's listening to Auburn on the radio.
- And finally, I'm thankful for beating Alabama six in a row. The odds are long Friday, but the streak gives us all hope that things will turn around quickly. If you are making your way to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Friday please drive carefully.
Happy Thanksgiving. Beat Bama!