When I went back home to Maryland over the summer, people constantly asked me how our football team was. Performance wise, my answer has changed over the years, thankfully becoming more positive. But through times of triumph and defeat, one thing that I always bring up is the constant electric energy of a football game at Neyland on any given Saturday.
There’s a certain famous commentary line in the hockey world that a man named Al Michaels spoke in 1980. “Do you believe in miracles?” This line can be applied to literally any sport. What fans saw Saturday was no exception.
Since 2007, Alabama has been the one game Vol fans were most excited about while also dreading it. This past week was the most confident I’ve ever seen people about beating Alabama. We say it’s our year every year, but it really felt like it this time around. With ESPN Gameday AND SEC Nation in town, the eyes of the college football world were on Knoxville. If the Vols came out on top, we’d earn the respect that has been lacking over the years. If they lost, things would be back to normal.
The student section was probably the loudest it had ever been. From the kickoff, my noise meter on my watch was constantly above 90 decibels. It would peak at 124, but more on that later. The first half, everyone was confident in the team’s abilities. The game seemed almost certain to go in Tennessee’s favor. I don’t know what Nick Saban said in the locker room during halftime, but things changed for the second half. Tennessee didn’t look as strong as it did before. With the score tied and only a few seconds on the clock in the fourth quarter, Neyland went quiet for Chase McGrath’s kick. One field goal and three points later was probably the loudest noise I’ve ever heard. With the victory secured, a new problem arose: Several thousands of people were running directly towards the field. The goal was to get on the field as comfortably and painlessly as possible. A rolled ankle, sprained wrist, and bloodied elbow later, I made it. I lost track of my friends in the chaos, but in a way, everyone on the field was my friend and we were all invited to the biggest party in Knoxville since 1998.
Skipping forward to Sunday morning, I had several texts, several missed calls, several social media tags, and absolutely zero voice. As I am writing this article, I have a whiteboard and a dry erase marker to communicate with people in the office. I am tired and sore. One of the texts my mom sent me was “was it worth it?” I think so.
About the Author
Hailing from Kent Island, MD, just an hour from Baltimore and DC, Dylan played hockey his entire life and has been a Capitals fan since day one. After 16 years of on ice action, he decided to hang up his skates in 2019, leave Maryland for Tennessee, and switch his focus to radio, talking about hockey whenever the opportunity arose on WUTK. In the Fall of 2020, Rock Solid Sports reached out to Dylan for his hockey expertise, to which he accepted and has been providing the Knoxville area with in depth knowledge of the NHL and reporting on the Ice Bears since. Dylan is also a fan of the Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore Orioles, and Washington Nationals.