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Goodbye to two sports journalists

Every now and then we experience life’s little reminders of how precious, fragile and short life can be. In the past week and a half, the local sports world has been rocked with those reminders not once but twice.

Late in the evening May 25, Auburn radio broadcaster Rod Bramblett and his wife Paula were tragically killed in an automobile accident. They were killed just a few short miles from the center of campus where Rod had called so many iconic moments in Auburn sports history. For myself and millions of Auburn fans, Rod was our voice. He was the “Voice of the Auburn Tigers.”

No true Auburn fan will forget some of Rod’s greatest calls, like “See you later, Alligator,” “Go crazy, Cadillac!” or “There goes Davis … they are not going to keep them off the field tonight.”

Those are moments etched into the minds of every Auburn fan nationwide.

Not only was Rod the football broadcaster, he also called basketball and baseball games for the Auburn Network as well. Just a week earlier, he and his partner Andy Burcham were recognized for 25 years of broadcasting Auburn baseball games.

Rod had recently called Auburn’s historic run to the Final Four in basketball and had just finished calling Auburn’s baseball games in the SEC Tournament in Birmingham.

Only a tiny fraction of Rod’s fans knew him personally, but those who did described him as a humble and loving man. Those who knew him and his wife Paula knew they loved their two children, Shelby and Josh.

For those of us who just knew Rod from his radio calls, we loved the excitement and energy he brought to every game. He painted a scene and described every detail so we could see it in our minds.

It is hard to imagine what the Brambletts’ two teenage children are going through at this time. They have lost both of their parents, at the same time, at a very important time in their lives. A GoFundMe page was set up to raise a modest amount to help the children with life expenses moving forward, and the “Auburn Family” responded, raising more than $300,000 – with Apple CEO and Auburn alum Tim Cook donating $25,000.

The other tragedy to hit the local sports world was the loss of Jeff McIntyre. Jeff was a sportswriter for the Times Daily newspaper in Florence, covering all things UNA, as well as high school sports, for the Times Daily.

Jeff passed away after a short battle with cancer at the age of 57.

Every fall for the past two decades, Jeff would call me and ask me to cover high school football games in Franklin County for the Times Daily. We would have short conversations about teams, coaches and players every week. Jeff was always optimistic and positive about our teams. I never heard him say a critical word about anyone.

Jeff was the consummate professional. He has been described as “one of the good guys.” He never had an agenda of his own; he just did his job and covered the games, the players and the coaches in the most unbiased and professional way.

I’m going to miss getting Jeff’s phone call this fall. I’m going to miss hearing Rod’s voice this fall.

Keep both of these families in your thoughts and prayers in the coming days. They made our world a better place.

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