The Florida Gators will add a mural commemorating the life and fandom of George Edmonson — the Florida fan who immortalized himself as “Mr. Two Bits” by inventing a cheer that became a Gators tradition and died in July at the age of 97 — inside Gate 1 of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, the program announced Monday.
In addition, the program will turn duties of the “Honorary Two Bits” cheer over to the Edmonson family for Florida’s home opener against Tennessee-Martin in September, and is selling t-shirts in Edmonson’s unforgettable style along with tickets to that game for the next week.
Existing Florida boosters will also be given the chance to order the t-shirts.
This style of tribute to Edmonson feels right to me, despite some discussion around the time of his passing that he should be immortalized with a statue — an honor currently reserved for Florida’s three Heisman Trophy winners, widely considered the best and most important players in program history.
Edmonson also famously did not attend Florida, picking up his allegiance to the Gators later in life while living in the Tampa area and going to Gators games, so honoring him as anything but an honorary alumnus — which would have been an element of any tribute to him at or in front of Alumni Hall, another idea that some proposed — would likely have felt weirder over time.
The truth is that the best tribute to Edmonson is the one Florida already has in place: A pregame cheer almost exactly like the one he always led, with the difference being whatever spin the persons holding the eternal flame that is the Mr. Two Bits spirit put on it i in that specific moment. It is at once a constant reminder of what Edmonson did for Florida’s program, and a way to extend his spirit to all corners of Gator Nation.
And adding a mural explaining his life and the Two Bits tradition to The Swamp just gives fans — and families, especially those with kids who might want to read an explanation of it — a permanent place to memorialize him in the venue where he operated, and one that isn’t as labor-intensive or over-the-top to build as a statue or an on-campus memorial.
But I think you and I might want to get to Gainesville for that opener to see the Edmonson family don the shirt, pants, and tie one last time — and bring tissues.