Friday, October 01, 2004

Neyland Nightmare

Coach Bill Curry recalls a visit to Neyland Stadium.

I stood in the bowels of Neyland Stadium with our Georgia Tech football team as we waited to take the field in 1983. We had played very well there two years earlier, losing a tight game in the closing minutes. In 1982 our struggling program had taken its first giant step to recovery with a win over Tennessee in Atlanta and in my mind this game was to be the next quantum leap for us.

It was a misty day with an eerie quality and poor light in the tunnel, obscured from the field as we were by a gaggle of dignitaries. They were to be introduced in a ceremony of some sort. In those days we were a favorite homecoming opponent, so maybe that was what was going on.
I heard the raucous crowd go silent at length, after which a raspy voice began to speak in reverent tones on the stadium's public address system. "That's a strange voice. What on Earth is he doing?" I wondered aloud. The security man standing with me leaned over and whispered loudly, "That's Reggie. He prays, too."

I struggled with that for several seconds until reality struck with a cold chill. Reggie White, the Minister of Defense, was praying with his crowd. I sensed we were in trouble. Not only could the future NFL Hall of Fame defensive end destroy offenses, he could invoke the assistance of the Almighty, doing so in a way that would inspire his team and the huge crowd. However all that works, it was effective for the Vols that day as White dominated before, during, and after the game.

Beware the spirits, holy or otherwise in that Neyland place!

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