“It just means more,” we’re told when it comes to SEC football. ESPN and ACC Network analyst Taylor Tannebaum recently shared an anecdote that proved just how true that sentiment is.
Before joining ESPN, Tannebaum cut her teeth working as a reporter for Alabama TV stations, covering the Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers. Naturally, that meant she spent time on the sidelines during a handful of Iron Bowl games. During one such game, she was treated to an experience that seems like it could only happen at an SEC college football game.
When @TaylorTannebaum was covering the Iron Bowl early in her career, a kid asked her to spread his Grandfather’s ashes on the field during the game ? You’ve got to hear this full story! #CFB
Full episode w/ Taylor: https://t.co/ruaOLx6ooj pic.twitter.com/xFwF555n4f
— Kelly Gramlich (@kellygramlich) May 24, 2023
“So one Iron Bowl, I’m standing on the sideline, Tannebaum told Kelly Gramlich and Eric Mac Lain during an appearance on their podcast. “It’s in Tuscaloosa. Alabama ended up winning that one. I wanna say it might have been 2016. 2017. I’m standing on the sideline. I’m a photographer cause I have to do my own camerawork. The sideline is very close to…where fans can come up to the side.
“So I’m standing there and the kid walks up to me and goes ‘Hey.’ Pulls out a plastic baggy. ‘This is my grandfather’s ashes. He’s the biggest Alabama fan in the world and he wants to be laid here.’ And I was like ‘That’s so cool but can you not do it right now next to my feet?’ I’m gonna be standing here the whole game, I don’t want to step on your grandpa. This is getting really weird. SOS.
“This is how much they care. Grandpa died and he wants his ashes to be spread at Bryant-Denny Stadium. I totally respect it. Also, I look at the guy, I’m like, Alabama is losing right now, it was like 14-7. You cannot spread the ashes when Alabama’s down. This is just not okay.
“So we talk a little bit and I guess I wasn’t paying attention cause you have to switch sides when touchdowns are happening. I had to run to the other side. I come back. The ashes are strewn. He did it without my knowledge. So I come back, I’m like ‘Oh my god, I’m gonna have to do this with grandpa’s ashes next to me the entire game.’
“The cool part of the story is I take a picture of it, it goes kinda viral on Twitter, it’s this whole thing. I end up getting a Facebook message from the guy. He ended up seeing the story was written…he messages me ‘Thank you so much, this means so much, my grandpa would have loved this.'”
The game in question was actually the 2014 Iron Bowl, which Auburn briefly led 16-14 and 23-21 before Alabama won 55-44 in a track meet.
See that residue? I kid you not..Bama fan just dumped his grandpa's ashes on the field in front of me. #IronBowl2014 pic.twitter.com/g86WIJQ3hv
— Taylor Tannebaum (@TaylorTannebaum) November 30, 2014
Bama and Auburn fans taking matters into their own hands to spread loved ones’ ashes at Bryant-Denny Stadium is more common than you might think (or perhaps its exactly as common as you would think). As noted in a 2015 AL.com article detailing Tannebaum’s experience, cremated remains were discovered on the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium following the infamous Kick Six Iron Bowl a year prior. And another woman admitted that she spread her brother’s ashes at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Alabama’s Fan Day in 2012.
We’d have to imagine that, since then, it’s probably happened once or twice…or many more times. And not just in college football stadiums in Alabama.
My brothers and I snuck into Ben Hill Griffin and buried my dad's ashes there back in 2009. Love stories like this. https://t.co/dsnFYyZP0O
— Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis) May 24, 2023
You’d be surprised how often we’re put in situations like this.. a woman did it in Chicago at Soldier Field and there were ashes in our camera gear for a solid minute once we got back home ?? https://t.co/RpiJNvPEP5
— Dannie (@dannierogers___) May 24, 2023
My mom ashes have been put in football stadiums, hockey arena, and baseball diamonds because she grew up coaching or watching me and my brothers play sports. I still have a whole Gatorade bottle worth of her ashes.
Bucket list for her ashes
Field of Dreams
NYY Stadium https://t.co/MG7ViwA29b
— CFB Home (@CFBHome) May 24, 2023