As football fans are aware, the AAF folded last week. I followed the Iron and made a new friend in George Reynolds, a Birmingham native. He did an excellent job of keeping the Iron fans up to date with player bios and information regarding the team so I asked him to write about our team’s demise from a personal view.
Saying goodbye is never easy and when the occasion to voice this sentiment is sudden and without warning, the realization of the event can render even the stoutest heart feeble.
Such was the case earlier this week when we heard the devastating news extolling the untimely collapse of the Alliance of American Football and, more crushing, the demise of our beloved Birmingham Iron.
For many of us, diehard and loyal fans that is, the prospect of football returning to Birmingham was a dream come true. The venture brought together fans from across state lines; it spanned continents and oceans (Scott Mannion in Australia and Gordon Dedman in the UK to name a few); hell, it even coalesced bitter intra-state Alabama college football rivalries into a union that allowed hallowed phrases like “Roll Tide” and “War Eagle” to be replaced by a singular and uniting anthem: “Forge On!” That in itself, is a Herculean task.
For players and coaches, the Alliance presented to many a potential fortuity best captured in a phrase I coined a few months ago: “Redemption for some; opportunity for others.” It certainly felt that way, anyway, for most of the ride. But now the proverbial rug has been pulled out from underneath all of us. And, this news has been crushing. It has been a betrayal. Especially to players, coaches and staff.
The phrase “broken promises and shattered dreams” comes to mind. But, at the end of the day, regardless of the level of pain or the degree of perfidy we realize on the behalf of AAF leadership, we can hold our collective heads high in the realization we did our part as fans. We cheered; we supported; we expended our all in a worthy cause.
In closing, I decided to end with a simple but very poignant quote that author, A.A. Milne penned in his classic book, “Winnie the Pooh.”: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Goodbye Birmingham IRON.