Tradition Unlike Any Other
Each year around
mid-March the commercial advertisements for the Masters Golf Tournament
begin to appear on CBS. Following a highlight from a previous year's
event, the commercial always ends with Jim Nantz saying "a
tradition unlike any other.........The Masters". Because The
Masters is my favorite golf tournament to watch, I have always enjoyed
seeing those commercials as a "build up" to the upcoming
tournament. I would put one other sporting event in the same category--
a tradition unlike any other....... University of Tennessee Football.
It isn't just
a game played over the course of three-to-four hours, but an entire
day filled with great times and fellowship with family and friends.
The tradition, in my opinion, is not based upon wins and losses,
but rather a coming together of thousands of people with a common
bond--a great love for the University of Tennessee.
me--I enjoy seeing the Vols win as much as anybody, but tradition
in its truest form encompasses things such as friends and families
tailgating, the Vol Navy, the Vol Walk, and the run through the
I am particularly
struck with an intense sense of pride regarding the latest addition
to Tennessee football tradition. I am referring to Coach Fulmer
and the entire team running their hand along the Lettermen's Wall
of Fame as they begin the Vol Walk. As I watched the coach and the
team do this at the Syracuse game, I thought of all the hard work
put forth by so many to make the dream of the Wall into a reality.
I also thought of the men and women whose names appear on the Wall.
In some small
way, each and every one of those people helped to establish the
rich tradition that defines University of Tennessee athletics. This
is another reason that I believe that tradition is not based on
wins and losses or championship seasons. Many of the people whose
names appear on the Wall never played on a championship team and
some probably didn't even experience a winning season. However,
they all strived to be the best they could be in their respective
sport because of their passion for the University of Tennessee.
As much as I enjoy championship seasons, I know that they will come
and go, but family and friends tailgating, the Vol Navy, the Vol
Walk, and the run through the "T" are all traditions that
will stand the test of time.
I have just
completed serving a three-year term on the Lettermen's Board of
Directors. I consider this opportunity to have served to be both
an honor and a privilege. Due to my service on the Lettermen's Board,
I have had the good fortune of getting to know some of the outstanding
individuals who played on the 1951 National Championship Team (Andy
Kozar, John Michels, Gene Moeller, Bob Davis, Pat Shires, and Gordon
While I am extremely
proud of these individuals for their accomplishments on the football
field, my respect for them has nothing to do with winning football
games. I respect these men so much because they are great people
and they have an unmatchable passion for the University of Tennessee.
They were winners on the football field, but more importantly they
are all winners in the game of life. I will never forget standing
with my family and watching those "old guys" (sorry Gordon,
it is impossible to conceal your age when you've been out of college
for 50 years!) running through the "T" at the Syracuse
game to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their national championship
season. I watched with tears streaming down my face-thankful for
being able to experience that moment and for being able to attend
another Tennessee football game. The games are more meaningful now
that I am able to go to the games with my wife and both of our children
to carry on the tradition that my dad began with me many years ago.
It was a day to remember the past, experience the present, and look
forward to the future--and to be thankful that on six or seven Saturday's
each Fall I am fortunate to be involved in "a tradition
unlike any other"!
light of the horrific tragedy that befell our country on September
11, 2001, I would like to say that it is my hope that lettermen
and Vol fans everywhere will continue to show the same kind of passion
for the Red, White, and Blue as we do for the Big Orange. Go
Vols and God Bless America!