|Old Dawg, me Dawg, and my little |
Dawg at a book signing in 2008.
You see, Old Dawg is my dad. He came up with the moniker a while back when he first felt compelled to comment on one of my posts. My father has commented only a few times in the three-plus years I've been writing the About Them Dawgs! Blawg, but he is undoubtedly this blog's biggest fan. Although he knows I'll probably post only once per week, maybe twice, dad still checks religiously for updates every day and without fail.
I've mentioned dad before. He was a long-time sociology professor at UGA before recently retiring. Like a lot of fathers, he taught his son a lot about life. In addition, he took an extra step by instilling a desire to always be extremely passionate, and nothing less, for the things I enjoy in life. Dad and I have always found enjoyment in following and pulling for our favorite sports teams, so we naturally share a common bond – a strong passion for the Georgia Bulldogs.
I've also mentioned here before my first Bulldog game, which was made possible because of my dad, and Sanford Stadium's addition of nearly 20,000 new seats – a 44-0 rout of Tennessee in the 1981 season opener. Only a few days before that game, dad was going through his common routine of the time, walking from his office in Baldwin Hall to teach a class in summer school. But that particular day would be far from routine.
As dad walked through the vending area on the first floor, he suddenly spotted a God-like figure in appearance and presence standing in front of one of the vending machines. It was none other than Herschel Walker! Without hesitation, dad did a quick about-face and raced back towards his office. There, he grabbed a pen and a small pad of paper and returned to the vending area, hoping Herschel had not left. He was in luck! Herschel was still there, beginning to exit the building before being stopped by my father for an autograph.
As the story goes, Herschel simply gleamed, displaying rows of pearly whites upon the autograph request. And, with dad's pen in one hand and a Snickers bar and the pad of paper in the other, he scribbled "To Patrick, Best Wishes, Herschel Walker."
For those of you who don't know or remember, Herschel certainly had some kind of impact on people; he could make faculty members scurry back to their offices, and late to instructing their classes. As far as Old Dawg, he realized how special an autograph from Herschel Walker would be just prior to me actually witnessing the greatest player in college football. My dad would do just about anything for his children, and his class would just have to wait that particular day for their tardy professor.
Featuring Herschel Walker on the Bulldogs' first possession against the Volunteers, here's a short, personal flashback when I first observed what would eventually become a passion of mine:
In the years to follow, I learned some valuable life lessons from Old Dawg through, oddly enough, Georgia football. Learning patience is a virtue and we often must make sacrifices in life, I was allowed to attend the Bulldogs' Labor Day night opener in 1982 – a 9:11 PM kickoff on a school night – after first begging and then agreeing to take a nap earlier that afternoon. Later that season, listening to Larry Munson on the airwaves, I was taught the meaning of a figure of speech, when sugar fell from the sky at Auburn in a nonliteral sense.
After Georgia broke my heart by losing to the Tigers in 1983, snapping a three-season streak of winning the SEC title, I admittedly cried uncontrollably. However, I was quickly consoled by my father, who sternly instructed that we rarely have control over the actions of others. And a year later, when the Butler did it, I learned that even the most stoic are young at heart.
As Old Dawg got older, our outings together to watch our Bulldogs became fewer. He last attended a UGA football game in 2008 against Central Michigan. It seems Old Dawg believes the Bulldogs are better seen, and the bathroom lines a lot shorter, at home in front of the TV. Regardless, we have a lifetime full of memories, and some lessons learned, from the games we did attend together. Now, it's time for me to accompany another Dawg to see our Bulldogs.
This fall, my five-year-old son will venture into Sanford Stadium for the very first time. We were recently checking out the home schedule and I asked him against which Bulldog opponent would he like to attend – Buffalo, Florida Atlantic, or Georgia Southern? He politely declined, indicating he didn't prefer any of his choices, but suggested a more formidable home foe – ironically, the Tennessee Volunteers. Like father, like son, I guess.