The last time I saw Rod Bramblett was … Tuesday. It hurts to type those words because they mean what they too often do. They mean I'll never get to see him again.
In the press box at the Hoover Met, I ran into the Voice of the Auburn Tigers for the first time in more than a year. He was getting ready to do what a lot of people may not realize he did the rest of the year when he wasn't painting amazing pictures with his words on fall Saturdays in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
He was getting ready to call Auburn's first game in the SEC Baseball Tournament. He would put all of himself into Auburn-Tennessee baseball just as he would an Iron Bowl. Rod was an Auburn man for all seasons.
As was always the case when we would visit in a press box or on a press row through the years, he didn't want to talk about him. He asked about me. He wanted to know about my new career change and my return to writing. He encouraged me and offered a compliment I'll treasure.
It hurts that I waited until now to return the favor. That I have to say goodbye to one of the nicest and most humble men I've ever met, inside or outside the dog-eat-dog world of major college sports.
Everyone says that when someone passes away. Everyone's saying it about Rod Bramblett, after the tragic Saturday night car accident that took his life and the life of his wife, Paula, but we're saying it now for two reasons: He touched so many people in so many positive ways, and it's the honest truth.
The SEC has been home to so many iconic voices through the years. Auburn's been doubly blessed to have two, and a lot of us are old enough and fortunate enough to have spent a little time with both of them. The late Jim Fyffe made "Touchdownnnnn Auburn!" as meaningful as a two-word exclamation can be. In tribute to Jim, Rod took that phrase, carried it forward and made it his own.
That was so him. He didn't try to reinvent the wheel. He didn't make the games he loved all about him. He communicated and connected with the Auburn family in his own unique way.
You don't have to be an Auburn man to get chills when you hear these forever words:
"A miracle in Jordan-Hare!"
"There goes Davis!"
"They're not gonna keep 'em off the field tonight!"
Those were Rod Bramblett's words, and he delivered them in the perfect tone and right on time, with no script, no rehearsal, no time to work to craft the perfect phrase. He found the perfect phrase again and again because it came from his heart.
He was working but not really. He was living with every Auburn moment, telling what it meant to every Auburn man, woman and child. His voice has been stilled, but his voice, that humble yet powerful voice, will echo forever.