On Saturday afternoon, August 4, I as going through a box of old photographs, law school papers, letters, etc. when I saw it. It was a Wednesday, September 8, 1982 article that Lewis Grizzard wrote about the Monday night (the first time the new $800,000.00 lights went on for a football game in Sanford Stadium) September 6, 1982 football game between UGA and Clemson.
September 1, 2013, tonight, thirty-one years, lacking five days, they’ll be at it again. And, it’s a really big game just like it was then. The only difference, no one, no one, can write about it like Grizzard did. So here it is, just like he wrote it for the Wednesday, September 8, 1982 paper:
The Soul of a football game
can only be seen from stands
I have spent a lot of seasons watching Georgia play football from the press box. Too many, as a matter of fact.
You miss too much watching a football game from that vantage point. You see the body of the game, but too often you miss its soul.
Georgia-Clemson Monday night had a soul. I was proud and happy to be out in the middle of it, something cold to drink in one hand and one of Tina Stevens’ deviled eggs in the other.
What Georgia-Clemson was to some was getting even for last year. You remember last year. Clemson gave Georgia only a handful of tickets, and then spread them all over the stadiums so the visitors could not stand and urge as one.
Dawgs got even Monday
And when it was over and Clemson had won, this ol’ boy was remembering Monday afternoon, and how they treated the Georgia people with a measure of rudeness.
“Long as I live”, this ol’ boy was saying, “I’ll never forget leaving that dang little ol’ stadium up there and this Clemson fool seeing me in my red-and-black outfit and holding out a gnawed chicken bone at me and saying, ‘Come heah, Dawg, come heah and fetch this bone.’
“I would have jumped on him with both feet, but there wasn’t nothing but orange as far as I could see. I just sucked it up and started waiting for next year.”
Getting even, A man was talking about Clemson perhaps being put on probation by the NCAA for recruiting violations.
“I hear they give those players enough they could afford syrup if it went to $8 a sop,” he said.
They started pouring into Athens as early as Sunday afternoon. Sunday night, the new $800,000 lights went on at Sanford Stadium.
I rode down to take a look with some good people from Alb Albany. Dee Matthews, who loves her family more than Georgia – but it’s close – saw those hallowed grounds lit up like day and an $800,000 smile broke across her face. Dee’s children got a “10” for a momma.
God is a bulldog
Monday morning was bright and clear with a speck of autumn in the breeze when it could have been 95 and thick. God is a bulldog.
Bubber’s bait show was already packed. I don’t know how much beer Bubber finally sold Monday, but it had to be a record.
Bubber asked me if I thought Georgia would win, and I said I did, and then he introduced me to his grandbaby. Bubber has a grandbaby. Time flies.
I took my seat in the stadium at 8 o’clock, an hour before ABC would bring 40 million more to Athens. The grass was greener than ever under the staring lights. The crowd was its usual dazzling boisterous red. The band played.
And the sun was setting. Imagine seeing a sunset from Sanford Stadium. The sky to the west looked like Winder was on fire.
Friend of mine sat next to me. He looked at the sunset, too. And at the grass and at the crowd and he listened to the band and he said:
“Twelve years ago, I used to lay in my bunk in Vietnam and wonder what the hell I was doing in that mess. I guess what I was doing was defending this.”
He wiped a little tear from the corner of his eye and waited for the kickoff.
Yeah, you miss a lot in the press box.
I wish that great bulldog could be with us tonight. Maybe he is.
Go Grizzard! Go Georgia Bulldogs!