Archived Story

Trees don’t make the Auburn Family

Published 12:17pm Friday, April 26, 2013

Growing up, my family had no allegiance to either Auburn or Alabama.

I moved around a lot. For a while, I rooted for the Tennessee Volunteers (I was in first grade – I have since learned better).

So when I moved back to Alabama in the third grade, I didn’t really have a predilection towards either the Tide or the Tigers.

In fact, I didn’t even care about football in general.

From 1990-93, I watched as my family’s favorite professional football team, the Buffalo Bills, made the journey to the Super Bowl – four times in a row.

And I watched heartbreak after heartbreak as we lost every single one – and to the same team.

Sidebar – I hate the Dallas Cowboys.

I grew up going to their training camps.

I have signed footballs and jerseys packed away somewhere from the glory years – post O.J. Simpson – when Marv Levy was king and Jim Kelly was still in the pocket.

NFL was a big deal back then for me but college football, not so much. And after four years of disappointments, I sort of soured on football in general.

So I didn’t know how to reply the first time someone asked, “Alabama or Auburn?”

And I never really took sides – that is, until the day I started touring colleges.

I actually visited T-Town first. The quad was beautiful. The stadium was impressive.

But something about Tuscaloosa never felt right. It was like seeing a shirt I liked on a store rack, but when I tried it on, it just didn’t suit me.

When I went to Auburn the first time, however, it all fell into place.

I hadn’t even given serious consideration to attending a state school. But when it came to send off my college applications, I only sent one.

I have seen a lot of people teasing my old alma mater. They don’t understand why those trees meant so much to us.

But it’s not about the trees. It never was. It’s not about football, and it isn’t about toilet paper.

It is about the Auburn Family. It is about the memories we all formed underneath those oaks. It was that feeling you got in an airport 10 states away when you saw an Auburn hat and exchanged a hearty “War Eagle.”

It was about hearing thousands of people in unison spooling up with a “warrrrrrrrrrrrr …” only to magically scream “EAGLE, HEY!” at the same time, like we were all watching a drum major count it off.

I admit I am still not the biggest football fan. I don’t always catch the games on Saturdays, and last year I think I only tailgated at three.

But trees or not, I will always be an Auburn Tiger. It will always be my alma mater and hold a special place in my heart.

And I will always throw back a salutation to any fan, no matter where my travels take me.

That’s something you just can’t kill.

War Eagle.

Nelson is news editor for The Outlook.