Remember the old television sitcom "Cheers?" It was about a neighborhood pub in Boston and had an extremely eclectic cast of characters - regulars who would stop by the bar on their way home from work and talk about women, politics, sports and whatever else men generally talk about. If you were a regular viewer, you felt like you knew Woody, Norm, Cliff, Frasier Crane and all the others after only a few episodes. Watching the show always made me wish I had a corner bar to visit on my way home from work.
Actually, it wouldn't matter if I had a bar in my back yard. My lovely wife, Lisa, wouldn't let me hang out in a tavern and talk sports every afternoon no matter how convenient the location or how charming and quirky the clientele.
So I do the next best thing. I listen to 680 The Fan. The Buck and Kincade Show. I have to hear it. I admit it. I'm addicted.
I can't actually pick up the station's signal all that well in my house, so I make up reasons to drive around in my car every afternoon. I do all the shopping now and readily volunteer to drive our daughter, Jenna, everywhere she needs to go. Sometimes I take her places she doesn't even want to go so I'll have an excuse to listen to the radio. My gasoline bill has doubled in the two years since I became a fan of The Fan - but so be it.
I already knew about Buck Belue, of course. When he was a Valdosta Wildcat, way back in his high school days, I watched him play quarterback against Clarke Central in Athens. I believe it was a losing effort, but I was impressed by his composure, nonetheless. He was tackled for a safety early in the game, if memory serves me correctly, but didn't get rattled. And late in the game, when he barely missed on a potential game-saving touchdown pass, he just grimaced, shook his head ever so slightly and gave a minute fist pump, as if to promise himself that there would be a next time.
There were plenty of next times for Buck Belue. He broke onto the college scene in dramatic fashion in the last game of his freshman season when he came off the bench to rally Georgia to a come-from-behind victory over Georgia Tech in a game that was so evenly played that the late Lewis Grizzard wrote that the game should have ended in a tie. Buck went on to become one of the most revered quarterbacks in Bulldog history - helping them to become the undefeated, untied, undisputed and undenied champions of college football in 1980. He also threw two of the most important passes in Georgia football history - the miracle pass to Lindsay Scott in the 1980 Florida game and the only completion he would need to make in the 1981 Sugar Bowl game; the one that maintained possession and sealed the deal against Notre Dame.
Buck's partner on the radio show is John Kincade, a Philly transplant who never completed any significant passes that I know of. Like most Yankees, Kincade has a bit of an edge that is a perfect complement to Buck's more laid back Southern style. I don't usually cotton to Yankees, but Kincade has grown on me - although he will never fully grasp the emotional hold college football has on most Southerners.
At any rate, tuning in and listening to Buck and Kincade's friendly banter and interaction with their show's callers is something akin to hanging out in a neighborhood bar listening to the regulars needle one another, exchange ideas and opinions and, once in a great while, enter into rather heated debates. I guess that's why I love the show - even when they are talking about pro basketball or hockey, two subjects in which I have absolutely no interest. Tuning in to 680 makes me feel like I have somewhere to be every afternoon, and when I can't listen, I feel like you feel when all your buddies are getting together and you can't be there. I wonder what I'm missing.
Well Thursday afternoon, amidst the discussion of Michael Vick, Barry Bonds and Tech's new coach, I heard something quite out of the ordinary. I heard the news guy, Rob Tribble, making a pitch for donations of old clothes for the patients of a local mental health facility. I was actually quite touched. Here at Christmas, when so many of us are so deeply engrossed in our own spending orgies, we hear a lot of pleas to buy food and toys and to donate money to worthy causes - and here is a guy who simply wants you to clean out your closets and give away the clothes that you will never wear again anyway. And Tribble made a special plea for large-sized items.
Let's help him, y'all. You're getting new stuff for Christmas anyway, and you're going on that diet after New Year's and will be buying smaller sizes still. Help the guys down at my local pub. Shoot an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and Rob will tell you what to do with your donations.
Tell him Huck sent you - and tell Kincade that we are all glad the Auburn kicker Gator Chomped the Florida fans, no matter what he thinks.
Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.