Editor's Note: Rob Shuler is a former Auburn offensive lineman who was a four-year letterman on Coach Pat Dye's teams from 1982-1985. Shuler lives in Nashville where he runs All-American Holdings, a private equity fund that buys troubled American and European companies. Shuler is a regular on the AUTigers.com Tiger Ticket message board who wrote a column at Thanksgiving about his friend, Siran Stacy, who his wife and four children in a traffic accident.
My phone rang a month or so ago and on the other end was a former University of Alabama football manager, Mike Nichols. He went on to tell me that after reading my article on Siran Stacy that he and some former Alabama players were inspired to do something special for Siran (who had lost his wife and four of his children this past December in an auto tragedy).
My first question was, "I bet it is a safe assumption I'll be the only Auburn guy there?!" and his response was a simple "yes" with a chuckle. Yikes playing golf with the enemy.
I made my way down to Birmingham a few days ago with Jim Farmer to have dinner with Siran then played in this Bama golf tourney the next day. Obviously I was not enamored meeting the likes of former Tide greats Stallings, Bennett, Goode and Humphrey and I'd much rather have been playing a round with Sullivan, Rocker and Jackson. Like my Auburn brethren I'd like to think that all Bama alumni are heartless, godless and delusional, but this experience would prove that assumption to be the furthest thing from the truth.
At this event I witnessed a group of former players and alumni rally together to love on Siran. They not only spoke with their wallets, but more importantly with their time and encouraging words. As Siran and I made it around the course yesterday, he was continually greeted by men who had made the journey to Birmingham to look Siran in the eye and tell him they love him, that they had been praying for him and that they are on his team.
There was Cornelius Bennett, who had destroyed me during our annual Iron Bowl wars back in the 80's, flying in from Fort Lauderdale and hanging late into the evening to show Siran he cared. There was Bobby Humphrey who had issued the rallying cry for this event and was running all over the course to make sure the tournament went well. There was Mal Moore, who spoke briefly (acknowledging that there was an Auburn man among the crowd) about an extended family of friends and former teammates that had arrived from near and far to embrace Siran and would be there for him in the future. There was his former teammate and friend, John Cassimus, who flew down and picked up Siran, gathered financial supporters, and served as an incredible host and friend.
I could go on and on about what I witnessed behind "enemy" lines. It is the same support and love I would hope to see if one of my Auburn teammates experienced such tragedy. Man, have they now made it hard for me to hate them! You see they circled the masses for something much greater than a spring game (had to throw in that dig!). They gracefully dropped the business of their schedules to come wrap their arms around Siran and as a result he was greatly blessed by it. I'm sure some of my fellow Auburn alum will accuse me of being brain-washed, but what I witnessed was far bigger than the silly game of football. I witnessed the love of God flowing freely through these men to Siran.
The real question is is how is Siran doing? Well, the truth is he is fighting the good fight. He is flooded by memories of his loved ones and he is experiencing an incredible degree of loss. But in the midst of all of this I see a broken and contrite spirit and I see a man greatly dependent on God. Isn't this how I should be too? Isn't this where God wants us all to be…totally dependent on Him? And to get to this place for Siran it has come at such a great cost.
But there he stands before God, believing that the prayer from the multitudes of both Alabama and Auburn fans to the congregation from Hendersonville Baptist Church in Tennessee to concerned others from Germany to Asia, that all of these prayers are the reason he and his daughter Shelly are alive; and that through these continued prayers, they will move forward day to day. His road is long and the limp is permanent until the day he is reunited with God and his family. So as his friend I beg of you to continue lifting Siran and Shelly up in your prayers in the days and weeks and months to come.
Finally as I pull into my driveway this morning I thought about how I went down to Birmingham to show my support and love to Siran when in actuality I was the one who experienced God at work and moving strongly through my supposed "enemy"!
War Eagle and Roll Tide but most importantly God be with my friend and brother Siran.