Let me get this out of the way first. I don't have time to write for this site, although I wish I could. I am not writing this to impress anyone or obtain privileges. I am writing this becuase FlaGators and Cards inspired me with their stories; although mine doesn't involve a hat (but I do own some nice ones).
I was born in the biggest Gator city in the USA, Jacksonville, FL. No it's not where the throne is, and there are too many Noles and Dawgs fans there, but nonetheless its fan majority swears fealty to Gator Nation.
My father was born in NC, went to the same school as Michael Jordan, and always rooted for the Tar Heels in NCAA basketball and the Bulls in the NBA. Football wise he loved the Gators but when I was first growing up he seemed to carry all the up down seasons of the 70's and 80's with him, always fearing they would be mediocre again. So in my early youth he was more of a Miami Dolphins fan, big Dan Marino fan.
My mother was from Texas and growing up I spent alot of time with her dad, who was an FSU fan. Somehow that never stuck with me. Instead I got the Dallas Cowboys from him. My other grandpa was a FSU fan first, a Gator 2nd, and a Hurricane last ... how that works I'll never truly know. He once tried to explain it to me as, he rooted for the state of Florida always (he too was from NC).
My first memory worthy impressions of the Gators came in 1994 before the season had begun. The past year in 93 my favorite NFL player, Emmitt Smith, had just won a Super Bowl, Super Bowl MVP, and season MVP. I watched all the highlights of him, every single one I could get, which led me to watching alot of his Florida games and man, did I get hooked. Because of those I still think those Orange tops are special.
94 was a great year until that game against FSU, and I had to hear from all the non-Gators, which for some reason seemed to be louder back then. I was never discouraged and I was rewarded in 95 until freaking Frazier made us look like Bolles High school against Nebraska. But that just made us the hungrier in 96. 96 was the year where we took everyone's mother's to a nice seafood dinner and never called them again (we were just a tad too drunk against FSU to remember to complete the process the first time, so we made the spanking that much more fulfilling the 2nd time out.) After the Sugar Bowl I was on top of the world, If any Nole ever said anything to me I could just refer to the Sugar Bowl beat down, and Dawgs had shut their mouths since the 52-17 shellacking we gave them between ther hedge in 95. Danny had become my favorite QB, but not my favorite player, for some reason Terry Jackson (I called him Action Jackson and Mr. Reliable) was my favorite, after Emmitt Smith of course.
Years later I graduated high school, and applied to the University knowing full well I probably was not going to get in. I had spent some time at a College Preparatory school focusing way too much on girls and athletics than academics, and that just wasn't the place to do that. Thankfully I transferred to my local high school and salvaged my education with a few AP classes and enough to raise my GPA to go to another school just not UF.
Well I am also a Mormon, or officially a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. So I went on a two year mission a year after high school, to Oregon of all places, speaking spanish. Even out there I followed the Gators mightily even through the Zook years (Mississippi State, the unofficial finisher of UF coaches, spanked you Zook). I came home just in time to tune of Urban Meyer beating Georgia in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (still called that officially back then, now unofficially). It was one of the best coming home presents ever.
In 2006 God called Moses, I mean Tim Tebow, to lead his people, I mean Gator Nation across the Red Sea, I mean past LSU, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Ohio State to help lead to a National Championship. If only that 2006 defense had come in 2007 ... With Tebow and the offense humming like a fine tuned guitar played by Tom Petty or Van Halen, we we're everywhere and not in the awkward bad sense. We were Visa, ever where you want to be, which is putting points on the scoreboard. I loved that year, and the excitement it created for 2008 was almost unbearable. Thankfully I met my wife and got married in the spring before the 2008 season. I don't think she fully comprehended that Saturdays in the fall, are Gator days, all day, all the time. Through going to games with me, she now understands, a little better.
I got my AA at a community college while working full time, and the Gators became the most dominate force in SEC football for the next two years, Alabama being a close second.
I watched every game this past year, and yes I cheered out loud at work when Steve Addazio left for Temple. It literally had me on some sort of cloud nine feeling. (say what you want about Steve, I am just glad he's not the OC anymore.)
I look forward to many wonderful and not so wonderful years of Gator football, as I know it's not always roses. I am in the process of raising a Gator, and since I found out that I might be able to some online/travel school with UF, I'm still planning on graduating a Gator.
Go Gators! (Don't hate just cuz you're Gator Bait)