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JESSE'S UPDATE - 6:19 p.m. - Turn out the lights, 'cause the party's over, the 2009 Golden Flake A-Day game, that is. About 84,000 people showed up, despite not-so-great weather and live coverage of the game by ESPN. This was more than enough to impress recruits and make a good show for TV. In coming days, on this site and in next week's paper, Matt and I will write and post more stuff about this game and about the growing importance of spring football at programs around the country, in part spurred on by the 92,000 plus devoted fans who showed up for Alabama's A-Day in 2007, Saint Nick's first season. Time now for a beer or three at Egan's on the Strip. Good night Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.
MATT'S UPDATE - 5:12 p.m. - Well, Crimson pulled out a 14-7 victory...just got out of Saban presser, where our very own Jesse Chambers got to ask the Nicktator a question. Good stuff. Video to follow this evening. Right now, we'll crank out a game story and a couple of photos.
MATT'S UPDATE - 3:37 p.m. - Jesse and I are about to make our way down to the field for the remainder of the game and then to the north endzone media room for postgame interviews. No more blogs until we get back up here, but there will be Twitters.
JESSE'S UPDATE - 3:07 p.m. - We're almost to halftime. The sun is out and has been now for about 20 minutes, chasing away some of the gray and the gloom that has made this day feel more like the third Saturday in October than the third Saturday in April. Saban is on the field during the game but, unlike that hot, burning, golden A-Day of 2007 when he wore shorts and a straw hat, he's wearing a gray suit with shirt and tie.
MATT'S UPDATE - 3:01 p.m. - About to post video of our interview with ESPN's Chris Fowler...nice of him to take the time before the broadcast to discuss A-Day with us...So far, save for one bad pick, McElroy looks solid in the first half.
MATT'S UPDATE - 2:09 p.m. - The teams are lined up for the kick...Crimson will kick to White...stands are filling up quickly, almost to 2007 numbers. A best guess, may 80-85,000. Weather is overcast and cool.
JESSE'S UPDATE - 1:38 p.m. - We're about 22 minutes away from kickoff for the A-Day game, or, excuse me, the Golden Flake A-Day game. God, I love America. Hooper and I went down to the field and shot video for the legends flag football game. Some of the guys participating in this titanic contest were still pretty young. Some were my age or older and were, shall we say, a little over their playing weights. I wondered what it meant to them to be on that field again, if like virtually all middle-aged men, they missed being young, or at least in shape. Then we went outside the stadium for the Walk of Champions, when an escort of police motorcycles with whirring sirens bring in 3 or 4 buses filled witht he current players. The players, mostly looking very sober and serious, wearing their (spring)game faces, came off the buses to the adoring cheers and applause of the fans who crowded up to the driveway. These guys are in their flower of their youth, ripped and ready, all seemingly capable of spectacular feats of grace and strength. I look at them and see the old men they will surely become, just as I looked at the old guys and imagined or remembered the cocky kids they once were. Ah, time, time, time, and its ravages.
MATT'S UPDATE - 1 p.m. - Hope you're following us on Twitter ... BhamWeekly is the handle ... Just got back from field level for the Legends Game and the Walk of Champions. Some sun is finally beginning to struggle through the clouds, good news for everyone involved. Some observations...the Legends game was a nice addition to the A-Day experience, even if the gameplay wasn't that great...Bama's testing out a new endzone pattern today, the slanted font from the late 80s-90s (ALABAMA on press left, CRIMSON TIDE on the right in white block letters) with a red backdrop...not sure if they will pull off more than 90,000 today, but with an hour until kickoff, it looks like about 50,000 are seated and waiting.
MATT'S UPDATE - Noon - The Alabama Legends flag football game has begun, Jesse and I are about to head down to the field and check it out...
JESSE'S UPDATE - 11:42 a.m. - Oh how life twists and turns. When I was a kid in the 1970s, I was obsessed with two things -- Bama football and becoming a sportswriter. I became a writer, of course, but not a sportswriter. But now, here I am, a feature writer for The Birmingham Weekly who finally gets to see what the inside of a press box looks like. The legends flag football game is about to start, and the sun is struggling to break through the clouds. Loud rock music has been blaring over the loudspeakers since we got here and, just as I started to write this, "Sweet Home Alabama" kicked in, I kid you not. I am also pleased to say that I got to stuff my face full of eggs, bisquits, gravy, and sausage courtesy of Bama Dining, allowing me to replicate the Shoney's Breakfast Bar experience that I enjoyed so much (my arteries be damned) on McFarland Blvd., lo these many years ago.
MATT'S UPDATE - 11:22 a.m.: Just arrived inside Bryant-Denny Stadium's spacious press box...quite possibly the first time an alt-weekly has been credentialed to cover a Tide football game. Ok, it's a practice, not a real game, but you wouldn't know it from the atmosphere here. Jesse and I have been talking with fans who have driven hours to get here, in the rain no less. One fan told of a group he met from Indianapolis. Indianapolis!! Those folks aren't playing around...that's a 8-9 hour drive from Tuscaloosa. Check out the Flickr feed (link above) for photos so far. Also, we're Twittering like fools. Time to eat...