By Morgan Bryce
The community lost an icon, and two children lost both their father and their mother in a tragic automobile accident Saturday evening.
Rod Bramblett, known as the “Voice of the Auburn Tigers,” along with his wife Paula, suffered fatal injuries when their Toyota Highlander was struck from the rear by another driver.
The community, still reeling from last weekend’s shooting death of Auburn Police Officer William Buechner, was stunned as word began to circulate of yet another untimely loss.
According to a statement released by Auburn Athletics, a service celebrating the lives of Rod and Paula Bramblett will be held May 30 at 2 p.m. at the Auburn Arena.
Visitation will take place prior to the memorial service from noon to 2 p.m. The public is invited to attend. Dr. George Mathison will officiate. A private burial service for family will follow.
Editor’s note: Following is an editorial about Rod, his career and the impact he left on my life. I hope these bring back happy, sweet memories to the rest of the Auburn faithful.
Picture a late Thanksgiving family gathering in November 2003. I’m there with my family, a solid mixture of Auburn and Alabama fans, watching the Iron Bowl. Thankfully, everyone is on their best behavior.
Somehow, we Auburn fans had hijacked the radio and muted the television because we thought the announcers were undercover Alabama fans. As we fine-tuned the knob, Rod Bramblett’s animated descriptions of Jordan-Hare Stadium began to fill the room.
I had just gotten into football the year before, but couldn’t tell you much about the sport, let alone who the broadcaster was. However, that was soon to change with the first play from scrimmage of this Iron Bowl.
Jason Campbell takes the snap, takes two steps back and hands the ball off to Carnell “Cadillac” Williams. With nothing but open, green field in front of him, Rod counted away the yards Williams was covering and aptly described how all Auburn fans felt at that exact moment.
“Go crazy Cadillac! Go crazy!” Followed by a “Touchdowwwwnnnnnnn Auburrrnnnnnn!” of course.
We went on to win that game 28-23 and finish off the season with a 28-14 Music City Bowl win over Wisconsin on New Year’s Eve. I remember listening to Rod’s broadcast of that game amidst the moos of cows my grandfather and I were tending to that day.
There are plenty of great baseball and basketball games I remember hearing Rod call, but the vast majority of my best memories of him fall in line with the most magical time of year – college football season.
Everyone knows the depth and feeling of the “Prayer in Jordan-Hare” and “Kick Six” calls from the 2013 season. However, that’s merely scratching the surface of the great moments we shared with Rod during the last 16 years.
Tre Smith’s blocked punt v. Florida at home in 2006. Wes Byrum making not one but TWO goals in the final seconds against defending national champion Florida in The Swamp in 2007. The second-half comeback against West Virginia in “The Rain Game” in 2009.
Cam Newton’s electrifying 49-yard TD run and Nick Fairley’s tossing in the air of LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson in 2010. Phillip Lutzenkirchen recovering his own fumble for a TD in the endzone against South Carolina in 2011. I could go on and on.
Each time I think of those wonderful moments of Auburn football lore, I hear his voice shining through, somehow perfectly summarizing our emotions and how we were all feeling at that exact moment.
And the same went for the low moments, too.
If there was an injured player on the field, his voice went somber, regardless if they wore the burnt orange and navy blue or not. There were plenty of blowouts, missed calls and tight losses that we suffered with him through.
The 49-0 beating we took against Alabama in 2012. Coming seconds away from a second national championship in four years against Florida State in 2013. Fumbling away a loss to Texas A&M in the waning seconds of a 2014 contest.
But through it all, win or lose, he found a way to make things feel okay. No matter the outcome, he always seemed to find a way to galvanize us as a fan base and help us love our Tigers even more.
If I were to sit down and write all of my memories of Rod down, it’d take me days to compile them.
I can truthfully say I never met the man, but I know plenty who did and who were his friends. And they always said good things, particularly about his vivaciousness for life and passion for others, which shone through the airwaves to listeners like me.
Many have said the same thing, but with football season fewer than 100 days away, I can’t imagine that opening game against Oregon without Rod’s presence and interpretation of events. I have spent the majority of my life listening to him calling games for the team I was born rooting for.
There will be many tears shed between now and then. Much more importantly than Auburn athletics and sports is the family that he and Paula leave behind, as well as the 16-year-old driver who was involved and is recovering from his injuries.
2019 has been a roller coaster of mostly negative emotions for us as a county. But as we’ve done time and time again the last few months, let us come together and stand with tenacity in the face of utmost adversity.
On behalf of the Observer, I extend my most heartfelt and sincere thoughts and prayers to the Bramblett family during this challenging time.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
-2 Timothy 4:7