Last week I wrote a little bit about Tennessee football and tried to explain why I like being a part of it, but I left out something important: the carnival sideshow atmosphere of people watching that comes with it. Yesterday was a banner day for football related oddities, which I got to see because I got there early for a tailgate:
That's probably not the best photo of my coworker, Josh, but it shows the huge volume of hot dogs that were coming off the grill. When six residence halls of students are invited to your tailgate, you need a lot of food. You also need festive entertainment, so they booked a band:
I didn't catch their name, but they seemed like great guys.
Right after the band left (they had another gig at a moonshine factory in Gatlinburg), a roving group of girls handed us our first oddity of the day:
As posted at the bottom of the flyer, your baby can fall asleep every night on the fifty yard line of the replica Neyland Stadium that you install in their nursery. It's a Clown Bed for the new millennium. (A word that I can spell without looking it up thanks to the Backstreet Boys.) I can see being a football fan, but I can't decide if making your baby sleep in a fake stadium is adorable or creepy. On the one hand, you could decorate a really awesome nursery with a stadium crib as a centerpiece, but on the other hand, what if your baby doesn't like football? Or (God forbid) likes some other school?
Curious about how much this could cost if they were offering a $50 coupon, my friend Melissa looked it up on her iPhone. (I don't have a phone with internet, and we all know why.) Imagine our surprise when we discovered that for $400, the crib is not included.
It's $400 worth of bedding, specifically a dust ruffle, a fitted sheet, and a foam bumper. Amazon has informed me that similar sets are available at significantly lower prices, but those people who are content to let their babies fall asleep among frolicking teddy bears or smiling clouds and grinning suns are obviously not true Volunteer football fans.
You know, like Jesus was, according to this pamphlet I received yesterday:
That's General Neyland on the front. Our stadium is named after him, and, according to the pamphlet, "General Robert Neyland epitomized what it means to be a volunteer." He served in World War II and was an actual brigadier general, but he's better known as a former coach of our football team, who produced four national championships for the Volunteers during his tenure.
The pamphlet highlights this, but then goes on to remind us that, "despite all the greatness of General Neyland, he must bow the knee to a greater general and volunteer".
By which the pamphlet means, "Jesus."
I know that people say that football is a religion down here, but this pamphlet is the first thing I've seen that openly twists the two together, and it actually seems a little crazy. For every good point about General Neyland, the pamphlet one-ups him with Jesus:
Just as General Neyland left his home to serve his country, the Lord Jesus Christ laid aside His glory and left the praises of heaven to come to our rescue.
General Neyland left his home to fight for the liberties of his countrymen, but the Lord Jesus left His home to fight for a greater freedom.
General Neyland did not have to die for his country, but the Lord volunteered to lay down His life for sinners.
Unlike the great General Neyland, the Lord came to die for those who were and are his enemies.
I had no idea that General Neyland and Jesus were such competitive rivals, on and off the field. Eventually, though, Jesus brought home the championship:
The Lord Jesus Christ has done something for us that General Neyland could never do.
And then Mary tucked him into his Neyland Stadium crib, away in the manger, and all was right with the world.