Who Needs the Pros?

Luke RobinsonLet’s stay pro–free and proud, Birmingham! Who needs Sunday football when we do Saturday better than anyone?

By Luke Robinson

As this is my first piece for B-Metro, perhaps I should give you a few primer paragraphs about myself. I’ll go ahead and put the cards on the table by letting you know I don’t actually live in Birmingham.

Wait! Don’t quit reading yet! I do spend a lot time in Birmingham and I went to school here! That counts, right?

Also, I would be willing to bet that no one reading this column (that’s right, neither of you) has logged as many miles up and down Highway 280 as I have. Harpersville is considering making me an honorary patrolman. That has to be good for something.

But it is not just the asphalt of 280 that I have traversed. I have been fortunate in my 40 years to do a lot of traveling. I don’t want to brag, but I have been to Mississippi and Tennessee, if you get my drift.

While on the go, it is a given that almost every conversation with whomever I meet will come around to sports. One question that I have often been asked is, “Without a pro sports team, who do you Alabamians pull for?”

Well, the easy answer is to simply retort with, “We treat Alabama and Auburn like our pro teams.” However, that answer will not fill up this column. So I am left to wonder, “Who do we root for, professionally?”

I know, I know. You have probably loved the Atlanta Braves since Bob Horner was there (that is the standard answer all Braves fans give). But let’s think outside the Turner Field Skybox, here. Besides, I have always hated the Braves. Their games used to preempt my favorite show as a child: Space Giants. Never you mind that Space Giants was a poorly- acted, Transformers wannabe; to this 8 year old, it was the Citizen Kane of kid TV.

Anyway, Birmingham could probably handle its own team, right? If Milwaukee can have two mediocre-to-bad franchises in hoops and on the diamond, why can’t Birmingham have just one of their own?

It’s not that Birmingham hasn’t supported the few (sorta, kinda) pro teams they have had in the past. The old Birmingham Vulcans franchise won the World Football League regular season title and probably would have won the first ever World Bowl …if the league had not closed shop before there was a World Bowl. The Birmingham Stallions were one of the more successful and popular teams in the USFL, until that league also folded like Superman with a busted straight.

Then there was the Birmingham Fire in the World League of American Football. If it weren’t for that first-round playoff loss to traditional gridiron juggernaut Barcelona in year one, no telling how long the Fire could have burned. Alas, The WLAF ceased operations two years later, but the Fire did go to the playoffs in both years of its existence!

Forget football for a second, remember the Birmingham Bandits basketball team? It’s OK; no one else does either. I think only 12 people showed up for those games and nine of them were women hoping to go on a date with Jim Farmer. Maybe basketball is a bad example.

Bleacher SeatsThe point is that Birmingham probably has the foundation to house some sort of professional franchise. But since no league seems interested in giving us one, I thought perhaps we should we adopt a Birmingham-esque city’s team of our own. A team that we can all get behind but happens to be in another city with a lot of Birmingham’s characteristics.

Who’s with me on a bus trip to see our Kansas City Chiefs take on the Seattle Seahawks?


You know what? Maybe Birmingham already has the perfect setup now without a pro team. Regardless that neither university plays in the ’Ham anymore, Alabama and Auburn are only a strong kickoff away. And the two have combined to win the last four national titles. The Tide and Tigers have been accumulating more crystal than Walter White on Breaking Bad.

Our two state schools have also dominated the college football headlines for longer than that. Alabama and Auburn have had more drama than a Kardashian family reunion. Harvey Updyke, Cam Newton, Tommy Tuberville, the three Mikes at Alabama and the teabagger (I didn’t say all of the headlines were good!) have all kept this area on the tip of America’s football tongue. If there is a center of the college football universe, surely Alabama is it. Who needs the NFL when we have the NFL- Lite? It’s even more filling (around 100,000 people per each home game) and the play is great! Besides, pro football would be tough for us logistically. Can you imagine trying to catch Alabama vs. LSU on Saturday night followed by the Green Bay Packers vs. the Birmingham Traffic Signals (I figured we could name the team after Birmingham’s most numerous highway feature) on Sunday at noon? Something tells me that would not work out too well.

So let’s stay pro-free and proud, Birmingham! Who needs Sunday football when we do Saturday better than anyone?

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