Covering my angst with the soothing wisdom from my mother's prayer journals

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It’s Great to be A Tennessee Vol!

035I Said It’s Great

To Be

A Tennessee


Cheering for the Tennessee Vols is one of my favorite pass times. My favorite Vol wore #36 as a member of several championship teams from 1966-1970. Because he coached for over twenty-five years, he attended his first game as a spectator when he was in his fifties. He had no clue it was a social event and worried that the fans were not as focused on the game as he was.

My thought was, “Thank goodness!”

I was accustomed to watching his games with other coaches’ wives. Watching with my coach was, well, a whole new ballgame. We made the necessary adjustments, and have for many years enjoyed home games in Neyland Stadium.

Saturday we both attended the UT/Florida game but he attended with his three brothers while I got to go with my daughter.

By now everyone knows Josh Dobbs completed five second-half passes for touchdowns. It was Tennessee’s first victory against the Gators since 2004. The atmosphere was electric the second half, but the first half resembled a disaster movie and I’m not just talking about the game.

As we wound higher up the ramps to our seats, the walkways resembled scenes from a disaster movie. Many early bird fans overheated and sat or lay along the way. At least four times we plastered ourselves against the walls of the narrow passages so emergency vehicles could get through.

The anticipation of a girl’s football weekend totally eclipsed any recollection of the usually sweltering atmosphere of Neyland every time Tennessee plays host to Florida.  I also forgot I was three years older than the last time I was required to access seats in a section nearest heaven, but anytime I get to gallivant with a daughter, I’m in.

With enthusiastic Florida fans to the left of us and rowdy Rocky Toppers on the right, we watched as the Tennessee Volunteers gained momentum for a win that took them one step closer to the predicted SEC playoff game in December. Though it is a long season with worthy opponents ahead, Saturday the Vols looked like Champions in that checkered arena.

Football requires commitment from the fans as well as the players and winning is how we are all rewarded. As a teacher, I can’t resist a teaching moment. Lessons do abound in losses, but I prefer to teach from a win so FYI:


  1. There is no reason to pass out or freeze to death at a game so Google the temps. Assuming you’ll be fine might eventually put a burden on your companions. Take precautions. You many look cute in those jeans and cowboy boots, but you’ll look sad passed out from heat.
  2. Arrive at the game sober and stay that way. If you’re drunk you will be a pain in the rear for someone who may embarrass you or themselves. Everybody around you paid good money for their seats. A drunk does nothing to enhance the experience.
  3. Have faith. Josh Dobbs didn’t give up on his receivers. He came out the second half and threw to guys who couldn’t catch cold the first half. Some fans lost faith after Florida’s two TDs in the first quarter and went home. Look what they missed. Those who stayed till the end shared an amazing experience.
  4. Appreciate the power of redemption. At halftime the receivers asked Coach Jones for another chance. “Coach, throw to me.”
  5. A wise coach forgives past mistakes and allows for redemption.
  6. Step up and refuse to be beaten. The entire team responded to the coach’s challenge at halftime.
  7. Take on responsibility not excuses. Juan Jennings was one of the receivers asking for another chance. Josh sent that chance his way. Juan later said, “When I saw the ball coming I knew it was all on me.” A life lesson would be, “You may have dropped the ball many times, but you can still be spectacular.”

Mother wrote in her journal, “A reminder: Keep dreaming and believing and expect impossible things to happen In your life because sometimes the unlikeliest thing can come true in the twinkling of an eye.”







“The Book of Manning” – More Than a Football Story


Tuesday evening the timer on my phone went off and my hubby and I took our places in front of the TV to watch “The Book of Manning”.

The timer was set because the Manning family seems like distant kin. Archie Manning is a Mississippi legend. I was born in that state, and I have a husband who played at Tennessee when Archie was at Ole Miss (yep, “Archie Who”) so I didn’t want to miss the ESPN documentary.

I have loved the SEC since the love of my life signed to play at The University of Tennessee in 1966 when he was a high school senior, and as we watched the footage of that notable football game from the fall of 1969, it seemed like yesterday.

Tennessee’s team was 7-0 going into that game, but Ole Miss got fired up by a comment made by Steve Kiner and Archie showed out; leading his team to a big win.At that time, Steve Kiner was an All-American linebacker who went on to play in the NFL. He can claim many outstanding accomplishments, but he is often remembered for his comments to the press before this particular game.

By that time Archie Manning had made such a name for himself that the reporter felt no last name was needed when he asked Steve what he thought about Archie. Steve needed a last name so he asked, “Archie Who?”

The Mississippi fans are glad he asked and most of the Tennessee fans have forgiven him for providing the spark that fired up Ole Miss’s team.

Archie, the football phenomenon married Olivia, the homecoming queen, and the documentary proceeded to cover the accomplishments of their children.

I enjoyed learning Cooper Manning’s story. I had heard he was a gifted receiver who, because of back problems, had to quit playing. Tuesday night I learned that his condition sidelined him at Ole Miss and ended the possibility that he and his younger brother, Peyton, would be team mates again as they were for one year in high school.

Surgery corrected the problem, but the recovery required the kind of determination his family is known for, and with their help he recovered. His life took a turn away from a career of his own to supporting his brothers.

The documentary moved on to Peyton Manning.

When Peyton signed to play for Tennessee, it was always exciting to see him take the field. He was always a class act and made watching games more fun for my resident coach.We were sorry he didn’t win the Heisman Trophy, but that thing has been the kiss of death for too many winners, and he’s doing just fine without it.

The youngest Manning, Eli, has a story that brings his family back into the good graces of the people of Mississippi and pits brother against brother as stellar quarterbacks in the NFL.

One thing that struck me was Peyton’s comment about Archie, “He’s more than my dad. He’s my friend.”

Eli said, “I want to show my daughter the kind of love my dad showed me.”

Archie Manning’s own father took his life the summer before Archie’s senior year in college. To overcome that kind of loss took courage and faith and made him a stronger dad for his own sons.

In her journal Mother wrote,”Trials refine our character. They bring us a new and deeper wisdom and help us discern truth from falsehood. They give us the discipline to do what we know is right. Above all, these things (trials) help us realize life is a gift from God to be cherished; not a right to be taken for granted.”

“The Book of Manning” provided insight into the lives of good people living productive lives while overcoming obstacles and, through it all, loving each other.