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Deeper than the Game

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Alabama biggest state rival game, between Auburn Tigers and University of Alabama Crimsons Tides, has been going on since the 1800’s. The backdrop of its historical undertones is worth a glimpse of how deeply rooted the archrival is entrenched. In 1892 a dispute occurred as a result of an Auburn win over Crimson Tides 32 – 22. The dispute was not about the score or the win, it was about whether to count that win in the season of 1892 or in 1893.

In 1907, Auburn and Alabama game series were temporarily suspended until 1948. Can you believe it took the Alabama House of Representatives to step in to pass a resolution appealing both schools to shift beyond differences and get down to the business of playing football? Well, it did, and in 1948 they met, not on Auburn’s Tigers turf nor on Tuscaloosa’s Crimson Tides turf. Instead, they met midway, in Birmingham, Alabama at Legion Field. Games resumed, and the yearly match became known as the Iron Bowl. The term had nothing to do with the continued long going rivalry. That term was associated with the iron industry in Birmingham.

Bear Bryant’s remarks years ago about Auburn being that “cow college on the other side of the state” did not help relieve tension of the arch rivalry. Just as seasons change, the tides turned, and in 1989 Auburn ravished in a victory game over Alabama 30 – 20 at Auburn’s Tigers home turf, Jordan-Hare Stadium. It was a jubilee for Auburn fans. So much so, that Auburn’s coach equated to it as “the walls coming down in Berlin.”

Well, I cannot determine that the solution is merely walls coming down, but I do know, we must address violence in communities ” because it is appalling that in 2013 an irreversible incident took place after Auburn’s 34 – 28 victory. This appalling incident has nothing to do with the fact Auburn prevented Alabama from winning its’ third national championship. This incident takes preference over who won or who lost.

When it comes come down to life and death, winning or losing a football game takes backseat status to Michelle Shepherd, a 36 year old mother of 3, allegedly killed by 28 year old Adrian Laroze Briskey. Both were Alabama fans, but did not know each other. It is alleged that Briskey felt Shepherd and her sister were not Alabama fans. They argued, got into an altercation and shots rang out. Ms. Shepherd, a resident of Birmingham, was pronounced dead at the scene according to Hoover’s spokesperson, Captain Jim Coker. Nekesa Shepherd, Michelle Shepherd’s sister, said there was no physical altercation. She said she will never forget that her sister, Michelle Shepherd, died in her arms. Adrian Briskey is now in custody at Shelby County Jail with a bond set at $75,000.

This is tragic and sad. There must be an awakening on the inside of us that sustains us to value life, not just our own, but others, as well. We must find common thread to agree to disagree, to learn to reason beyond our differences, to be able to walk away, so that we can continue on with our lives another day. This horrific act is much deeper than a game. My heart and prayers goes out to Michelle Shepherd’s children and family, as well as Adrian Briskey and her family, because their lives will never be the same.

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