Dawg Day After The Game

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Dawg Fans Suffer Another Disappointment

Here it is.

The day after.

The day after Georgia lost to Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.  Oddly enough, I’m not taking it as bad as I thought I would.  I think I’m the kind of fan that is sinking in the expectations of being disappointed.  At halftime when Georgia had dominated Alabama in the first half and held a 13-0 lead, I was expecting it to fall apart.  I just hoped that Georgia would weather the storm.  They didn’t.

Expecting to be disappointed.

That’s where I am as a sports fan.  Sure it’s nice to just make it to the championship game but you might as well win it when you get there because you never know when you will be back again.

I can tell you that I didn’t take last night’s loss as hard as the Falcons’ collapse in last year’s Super Bowl.  That one nearly did me in.  I honestly came close to calling it quits to sports after that one.  Yeah, I took that one the hardest of any loss any of my teams has had.  In fact, I haven’t followed the Falcons like I have in past years.

Of course, I remind myself that whatever the outcome, my life isn’t changed by it.  I still get up and go to work the next day.  My life goes on regardless.  It is simply entertainment.  It’s  just that recently my sports entertainment has disappointed me like watching the series finale of LOST.  (Yes, I went there.)

I’m still wondering how Alabama even got into the playoffs since they didn’t win their conference.  Yeah, I hear you talking about strength of schedule, blah, blah, blah.  I still don’t think anyone should be in the college football playoffs if they don’t win their conference.  It doesn’t matter.  I’m not in charge and nobody asked me anyway.  And, as I was reminded from one of my fellow sports friends, there is still controversy in determining the 68-team field for college basketball.

So what’s the next disappointment on my schedule?   The Tennessee Titans are 100 point underdogs against the New England Patriots this weekend.  (Actually it’s only 13.5 points but does it matter?)  I know anything is possible but I’m expecting another disappointment there.  I’m not throwing all of my emotions into it.

Losing still hurts regardless of how much “credit” the winning team gives you.  So what?  A loss is a loss.  Alabama Coach Nick Sabban gets his sixth championship.  I’m sure their fans are saying “Roll Tide” while Dawg fans are not talking.   I’m not even talking about the game with other Dawg fans because the wound is still pretty fresh.

Some would say, “Why don’t you just change to a winning team?”   Do you know how silly that sounds?  It’s about like all these Cowboy fans that only come out when Dallas is winning.  Yeah, I’m not going to do that.

Why do we go through this?  Why do we set ourselves up to be disappointed?  It’s crazy isn’t it?

When I went to sleep last night, I was doing like probably most other Dawg fans were doing last night, I was replaying the game in my head.  Thinking about missed opportunities.  Thinking about calls that weren’t made by the referees or the play calling at certain parts of the game.

I wake up to my life and getting ready for work.  Nothing has changed there.

I think we all knew that Alabama would come back last night.  Nick Sabban and his coaching staff know how to make adjustments and boy did they ever?

I’m going to stop short of congratulating them on winning the game.  I don’t care about that or being a good sport about it.  I’m not even thinking about “next year” or getting back there and winning it next year.  It’s a long season.  We will just move on to the next thing until we get there again.  We can’t forget that it’s just a game.  Our life is full of more important things than who wins and loses a game.  Especially when I have no direct involvement in the team.  Sometimes we lose sight of that in the excitement of the game.

When our teams lose, we should remember the good times.  Think back to great comebacks and thrilling wins.  I can tell you that no Dawg fans will be thinking about that today so don’t even try to console them with that but as they days pass, we will all remember that exciting win over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, the win over Florida and winning the SEC championship.  It will just take some time.

 

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1980: My First Championship Team

84f0085148b285b7b901e20e14bbf4ff--georgia-bulldogs-hedgesI was 16 years old the last time the Georgia Bulldogs won the college football national championship.  The game was played on January 1, 1981 in the Sugar Bowl against Notre Dame.  In fact, until this season, that was the last time the two teams have played.  Ironic isn’t it?

We were visiting my grandparents in Waycross, Georgia, on the day of the big game.  They weren’t football fans and not much into watching television so I had my transistor radio to listen to the game and the legendary voice of the late-Larry Munson calling the game.  The game wasn’t high scoring like Monday’s semifinal game against Oklahoma but it was just as agonizing.  The Bulldogs were ranked Number 1 in the nation with an 11-0 record.  With the score tied at 3-3, Herschel Walker scored on a 1-yard run to give the Bulldogs a 10-3 lead.  Another Notre Dame fumble later set up Walker’s second touchdown for a 17-3 lead.  Notre Dame made it 17-10 and the Georgia defense hung on for the win.  The amazing stat in the game was that Georgia had only one pass completion in the game.

When Georgia won I was jumping up and down.  Everyone thought I was crazy.  No one else seemed to feel the same way I did.  Oddly enough, I never watched the video of that game until a few years ago when I watched the YouTube video of the game during my bus rides to/from work in Tampa, Florida.  Even though I knew the outcome, I still felt tense watching the game in the same way I felt when I first listened to it.

Two years later, I was in the barracks at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas near Abilene, Texas watching the Bulldogs play Penn State in the 1983 Sugar Bowl against Penn State.  The Bulldogs were playing for another national championship.  Unfortunately I found myself as the lone ranger amongst Penn State fans in the barracks.  Sadly, Penn State won 27-23.  The guys around me watching the game were relentless in their celebration and getting in my face about it.  It was devastating.

That was the last time Georgia played for a national championship – until now.  It has been a long time.

Only one time since then has Georgia been in any position of the national championship.  In 2002, the Bulldogs lost one game.  That one loss – to Florida 20-13 – probably cost them a shot at the national championship and we all knew it then.  The Bulldogs later beat Florida State 26-13 in the Sugar Bowl to finish Number 3 in the nation.  I don’t think you get a Bronze Medal for that.

When Sony Michel broke from the Oklahoma defenders for the game winning 27-yard touchdown run in overtime, it was a moment that didn’t seem real.  I stood in front of the television mounted on our wall with my arms up but still not sure if I should celebrate.  I kept looking for something to be wrong.  I looked for a penalty or something to go wrong.  That’s just how it has been for this Bulldog fan.  Celebration that turns to anguish.  A long touchdown negated by a holding penalty.  Not this time.  The Bulldogs are playing Alabama for the college football national championship.  I still can’t believe I am typing those words.

I still remember the day I actually stepped foot inside of Stanford Stadium for the first time on September 24, 1994 when I was working part-time at the Macon Telegraph newspaper.  My editor, Kevin Proctor, let me tagalong with our reporter to the game.  I was sick as a dog that day but I was not going to miss it.  When I walked in I wasn’t sure whether or not I should remove my shoes since I was on Holy Ground.  Then I met Larry Munson.  It was overload time for me.  I sat in the press box doing the scoring summaries which turned out to be a busy job since Georgia walloped Northeast Louisiana 70-6 on that day.  After the game, I went down to interview quarterback Mike Bobo who had come into the game.  It was an experience I will never forget.  I have been to games since then as a fan but there will be nothing like that first experience between the hedges.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t care who won the game next week.  I could say that it’s nice to just be in the national championship game.  No, sorry, I can’t say that with a straight face.  I want the Bulldogs to win it!  Hey, it was a rough sports year for me in 2017.   The Falcons lost the Super Bowl, the Nashville Predators lost the Stanley Cup and Warner Robins lost the Georgia High School State Championship game.  I need a sports team to win bad!

In fact, thinking back to teams that I follow and winning it all:

  • 2004 – Warner Robins beats Statesboro for Georgia High School state championship
  • 1995 – Atlanta Braves won World Series
  • 1988 – Warner Robins beats Brookwood for Georgia High School state championship
  • 1986 – Villa Rica beats Worth County for Georgia High School state championship
  • 1980 – Georgia Bulldogs beat Notre Dame 17-10 for college football national championship

When the Georgia Bulldogs won the 1980 national championship, that was my first team to win it all.  They were the first.  I figured there would be a lot more between then and now.    Unfortunately, I have had more disappointments in my sports teams than celebrations.  Blowouts, chokes and terrible teams.  It’s nice to be back in this place again where it all started in 1980 – Georgia playing for a national championship.

 

 

 

Football Friday (12/29/17)

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Can Georgia Freshman QB Jake Fromm lead the Bulldogs to Rose Bowl Win?

With the Georgia High School football season done, I’m a bit lost without a weekly blog about football so I am going to try with a new weekly blog about the world of American football from the National Football League (NFL), Arena Football League (AFL), semi-pro football and American football news around the world.  This format could change but let’s get started with the inaugural edition of Football Friday.

 

National Football League (NFL) – It’s the final week of the regular season.  Most playoff spots have been filled except for the last two in each conference.  It’s easy right?  All the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans have to do this week is win and their in.  Not so fast my friends.  The Falcons play Carolina who would like nothing better than to send the Falcons home.  Honestly, I have cooled off on the Falcons since the Super Bowl so I don’t have much faith in them doing anything with the final playoff berth but I don’t want to see Seattle get it either.  I’m going to say that the Falcons lose to Carolina and still get in.  The Tennessee Titans have stunk the last few weeks and now they limp into the final regular season game against the Jacksonville Jaguars to play a team they beat soundly earlier.  I really don’t think Tennessee is good enough to be in the playoffs.  I think they will complete their late season spiral and Buffalo will get in. Will the Cleveland Browns win their first game and avoid going 0-16? No. Even with several Steeler stars resting, the Browns won’t win against the subs.

College Football Playoffs – The college football bowl season will have a full slate of games this weekend. Of course, the biggest games will be the semifinal games in the Rose Bowl where Georgia will play Oklahoma. The Sugar Bowl will be the semifinal game for Alabama and Clemson. Both games should be pretty close. Georgia is the newcomer to the big stage but the Bulldogs have responded in big games even with their freshman Quarterback Jake Fromm. Oklahoma counters with Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks don’t normally play well in the big game. I’m looking for Georgia to pull out a close win. Alabama is seeking revenge for last years loss to Clemson in the National Championship game. Nick Sabban usually gets it done so I am expecting Alabama to take down Clemson to set up an all-SEC final.

Arena Football League (AFL) – Yes, they are still alive and planning to play in 2018 in spite of losing the Tampa Bay Storm.  Honestly, when we lived in Tampa for two years I didn’t hear much about the Storm so maybe this isn’t such a shock.  Tampa Bay issued a statement that they would sit out the 2018 season which could mean they might join another league but, honestly, the state of arena/indoor football is very weak.  There is no stability in any league at the moment.  With the departure of the Storm, the AFL is down to four teams with Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and Albany.

Israel Football League (IFL) – The Jerusalem Lions (4-0) are the only undefeated team in the league.  In their last game, the Lions handed the Judean Rebels (3-1) their first loss of the season 44-32 in the Chanukah Bowl. The Chanukah Bowl is the IFL’s annual rivalry football.

National Arena League (NAL) – The Maine Mammoths will be a new expansion team playing in Portland, Maine in the 2018 season. The Mammoths will join Columbus (GA), Jacksonville (FL), Lehigh Valley (PA), Worcester (MA) and Greensboro (NC) in the league which begins play in April.

Semi Pro Football – Here is the final Top Ten poll of the Semi Pro Rankings for 2017 (from National Football Events):

  1. Taunton (MA) Gladiators
  2. Albany (NY) Metro Mallers
  3. Oklahoma Thunder
  4. Middle Tennessee Bulldogs
  5. Inglewood (CA) Blackhawks
  6. Detroit (MI) Ravens
  7. Long Island (NY) Panthers
  8. Chi City (IL) Ducks
  9. Virginia Crusaders
  10. Columbus (OH) Fire