Justin Champion needed a flag. Joe Purcell had one. And within a few hours, a nice memory of Bulldogs had emerged.
Champion is a firefighter. He's the engineer driving the Rescue 2 truck for the Nashville Fire Department. Coincidentally, he is also a "big bulldog fan like never before".
Champion released a social media APB on Friday. He was looking for a flag for Georgia that he might be able to fly out of his ambulance when he drove up and down Broadway and West End Avenue during a long shift that began at 6am on Friday and did not finish Saturday before the Georgia Vanderbilt game.
Purcell, an Athenian broker and big Georgia fan, follows the Bulldogs pretty much everywhere. He got wind of the fact that a Nashville firefighter with UGA connections needed a "Georgia G" flag. By chance he had one he wanted to fly over his tailgate on Saturday south of Vanderbilt Stadium.
The two parties were connected through a Twitter mediator and met on Friday afternoon near the SEC Nation radio station on the Vanderbilt campus for an almost solemn "exchange of the G-flag".
Champion pledged to return the flag when he leaves his shift just before 7:30 pm kick-off between Bulldogs # 3 and Vandy. At that time Purcell invited Champion to join his tailgate.
And that's how another Bulldogs friendship came about.
"I saw all these Georgia fans pour into the city and I wanted to represent them," said Champion, a native of Brunswick and a nineteen-year veteran of the Nashville Fire Department. "I'm an inveterate Georgia fan, all my life, I'll run up and down Broadway all day and all night, so I thought if I could find a Georgia flag anywhere, all those Bulldogs would bark.
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There's a lot of barking in Nashville, where secondary-market ticket brokers estimated that 70 percent of the tickets bought for Saturday's game were picked up by Georgia fans.
Vanderbilt has the smallest The SEC has a capacity of 40,500 and is estimated to hold between 28,000 and 29,000 Georgia fans.
Thursday and Friday there was evidence that more than that could actually be in the Music City The downtown Honky Tonk neighborhood to the West End, where Vanderbilt is located, was packed with fans dressed in red and black, the honky-tonks on Broadway were packed with Georgia fans, where occasionally "go Dawgs!" Songs broke out. Restaurants that require a reservation did not report availability until late at night.
Georgia fans – and those of other SEC football powers such as Alabama and LSU – have long regarded Nashville as a preferred destination due to the music scene and relative proximity. This year's game has the added element of being the first of the season, and the first in 25 years when the Bulldogs launched the season against an SEC opponent. Stubborn pursuit of a national championship – Georgia fans seem like hardly anyone else other fan base to be motivated somewhere.
"This is our year, I know it," said the 40-year-old champion who had moved from Braunschweig to Nashville as a middle school student. "This year we win everything. I can feel it. "
With his newly acquired Georgia flag attached to Rescue 2 with black plastic trusses, Champion and his crew retreated to Rescue 2 and made their way back to the Broadway.
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