I have never tried to eat alligator meat. Never. I personally do not think of a gator as being a tasty form of protein. Anything that swims around all day in swamp water is less than appealing. Several of my friends disagree with me however. They love gator, fried, grilled or baked they could eat it every meal. I believe they hate the Florida Gators so much, they feel they need to eat as much gator meat as possible just to wipe out the species.
A few years ago while I was working at WRCB-TV, a man who owned a restaurant served up plenty of gator meat during Tennessee-Florida week. He never failed to bring some by the TV station but we threw out as much as the crew would eat because there were several of our co-workers who felt as I did about gator meat. It was always fun to show the other college football fans in the building that an alligator had been slaughtered and we had a good portion of the meat. It didn't matter if we actually ate it or not, but because it was Florida week, it was a lot of fun. We actually thought eating alligator meat would translate into a Tennessee victory on Saturday. That usually was not the case.
While we were gloating over the gator meat, Tennessee players and coaches were getting "all puckered up" as Coach Phillip Fulmer used to say. It didn't matter whether the game was being played in "The Swamp" or at Neyland Stadium, Tennessee could not seem to beat Florida. Peyton Manning never beat the Gators, Tee Martin only beat them once in the national championship year twenty years ago, and in the last thirteen years Florida is 12-1 against Tennessee. It's called a great rivalry, but when a team has won as many as Florida has it's really hard to see a rivalry there. For instance, since Tennessee clobbered the Gators in the 1990 "downpour", the Vols have won just six other times. Six, that's all. Florida is 21-6 against the Volunteers in the last 27 years. That's not a rivalry.
Maybe it's because we're consuming too much alligator. Maybe the "Alligator Gods" are seeking revenge on our dietary habits here in the Volunteer state. I saw on the news this week about a five-foot long gator being captured in Monroe County in east Tennessee. Alligators are not normally found this far north but they're being discovered more and more, even in the Tennessee river.
I have never checked to see the nutritional value of gator meat. I don't know how many carbs or calories are involved and while gator is considered to be a delicacy in other parts of the country, in Tennessee it's considered to be a once a year treat.
Perhaps we should stop eating alligator. Over the last thirty years or so, it hasn't translated into many Tennessee wins and it just doesn't taste good.
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Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org