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On any given football Saturday at Neyland Stadium, it's not unusual for a player from another decade to be honored or for an entire team from 30 or 40 years ago to be welcomed at the 50-yard line.
Such is the nature and sweep of this small field, about the size of an acre, wedged between The Hill and the river, where so much has happened since the first game was played here in 1921 (Tennessee 27, Emory & Henry 0).
And such is the magnetism of one of sport's great dynasties—the team in orange and white, the Volunteers of Tennessee.
For any dyed-in-orange fan, there is more to it than recalling a single moment, a single player, or even an unforgettable year. It is the total that makes it so grand, that staggers the mind and hear. It is an unknown Gene McEver running the opening kick-off 98 yards against Alabama in 1928; the '31 NYU game in Yankee Stadium; General Bob Neyland's 173 games in the win column and his six SEC championships; Doug Atkins vaulting over linemen to obliterate and unfortunate quarterback; Johnny Majors quick-kicking against North Carolina in 1956; the Doug Dickey years as both coach and athletic director; Willie Gault as nothing short of a blur; Peyton Manning's record 11,201 yards passing and 89 touchdowns; Al Wilson and the miracle play that led up to the '98 national championship under Coach Phillip Fulmer.
And it's next week's game against Auburn or LSU or Kentucky where, at halftime, in the midst of pitched battle, another great moment or team will be honored, and a memory plucked from history, an act of courage or strength or great strategy remembered. And should you be there, you'll know, like so many UT fans have known for so many years—hey, this is way more than a game.