Northport Resident Attends 204th Consecutive Alabama Game in Santa Clara

Call it passion, call it obsession, or just call it dedication. Aaron Blackwell, a Northport resident and Assistant Manager for the Alumni Fund at the University of Alabama Alumni Association has never missed an Alabama football game, home or away, since the Crimson Tide traveled to Hawaii in 2003 to wrap up Mike Shula’s 3-9 debut.

Blackwell said he was always a die-hard Alabama fan growing up and never envisioned spending his college years anywhere else.

“I didn’t have a backup school. I didn’t apply to another school, so I really don’t know what I would’ve done had I not gotten in, but everything worked out,” Blackwell said. “I grew up an Alabama fan because my dad was a big Alabama fan and he would always bring me to the games. I grew up wanting to go to Alabama and from there it just kind of spiraled out of control, to where I just started going to the games and never stopped.”

The first game of Blackwell’s 204-game streak was Utah State in 2004, a 48-17 Crimson Tide win. The 50th game of the streak was Alabama’s 2007 Independence Bowl win over Colorado, with the 100th game coming at the 2011 Game of the Century against LSU, a game that pitted #1 LSU against #2 Alabama. The 200th game milestone came this past fall against The Citadel.

“I think it just kind of happened,” Blackwell said. “At first I was with some buddies and we came across some tickets to a road game in Arkansas and it took a day to get out there, we didn’t sleep, and were up for 36 hours straight. We drove all the way out there, watched the game, then drove all the way back. All the stars aligned and I was able to go to all the games that year (2004) and from there, it just kept going, and going, and going. I kept getting tickets, so I just kept going, then it evolved to what it is now.”

Blackwell said the closest he came to missing a game was in Nick Saban’s second year, when the Tide were making the trip down to Baton Rouge for the coach’s first trip back to his old school.

“That was year four (of the streak) and so I got to the LSU game and I didn’t have a ticket,” Blackwell said. “I actually didn’t get a ticket until the day before when I found one ticket by itself. I thought ‘Man, I’ve went to a lot of games and it’s going to make me sad if I have to miss this’. It was a huge game and I kind of had this streak going, but I never really counted, or kept up, until then.”

That was Blackwell’s 60th game, after all, and Alabama pulled out an overtime win in Death Valley to keep their unbeaten record intact that season.

Blackwell said his most memorable game during the streak was the 2009 SEC Championship game against Florida.

“The year before, we had lost in a nail-biter and just to come back a year later and take down what I thought was a budding dynasty in Florida; that kind of started our dynasty and was a changing of the guard,” Blackwell said. “It was a really good game and had been so long since we had won an SEC title. To win that game was just really special.”

Having attended all seven of the national championship games during his streak, Blackwell said of the five championships, the 2009 Rose Bowl was the most special to him.

“It had been so long since we had played for a title and the fact that it was at the Rose Bowl. There’s not a finer stadium in college football,” Blackwell said. “That was just a really special trip and I had a lot of fun.”

Blackwell said his most painful loss, as a spectator, didn’t even come during the streak.

“The five overtime loss to Tennessee in 2003. That one has pained me for years” Blackwell said. “The one that pained me the most during the streak would probably be the Kick-Six. We had a chance to three-peat – I think a really good chance – and to see our chances at making history go up in smoke in one second, it was hard.”

Most Alabama fans can count on spending a pretty penny nowadays with Nick Saban in his prime and Alabama almost assuredly going to two playoff games each season, but Blackwell said that has never slowed him down.

“It was expensive before that, but since then it has gotten really expensive,” Blackwell said. “I try not to think about it. I really don’t know that I want to know how much money I’ve spent over the years.”

While Blackwell has a nice streak going at 204 consecutive games, he is nowhere near catching the late Dick Coffee II, who attended 781 consecutive Alabama games.

“Nowhere close, and I don’t anticipate ever getting there,” Blackwell said.

Photo: Aaron Blackwell (right) with the late Dick Coffee II, who attended 781 consecutive Alabama football games, on the day of his 100th consecutive game. Blackwell’s 100th consecutive game came on ‘The Game of the Century’, a 9-6 overtime loss to LSU in 2011.

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