8 months ago

A former Bama football star and his Auburn wife: How love won out

The colors orange and blue make his blood pressure rise. The words “War Eagle” make him queasy. And an Iron Bowl win by the Tigers make him question his reason for living.

Why? He’s a former University of Alabama center who played for Bill Curry and Gene Stallings. He’s a two-time All-SEC lineman, and he’s one of the most beloved Crimson Tide football players in the program’s history.

Yet the love of his life — the woman who gave him a son — the kind, smart, funny person whom he has called his wife since 2001 is… yes … an Auburn grad!

We’ve all heard of Tide and Tigers’ “mixed marriages,” as Alabama and Auburn fans often show the world that such a partnership can work. But a former Bama star football player marrying an Aubie? Oh, the horror! How did this come to be? This the story of Roger Shultz and his wife Paige: two down-to-earth, normal folks who every day remind us that love can win, even over the most heated rivalry in all of college sports.

If there is a former Bama football star who is one of us, Roger Shultz is that man. He’s not Fred Astaire but rather Fred Flintstone. Roger is not a Renaissance man but rather a restaurant man. Roger will never offer you tickets to the opera, but he will pick up the tab if you meet him at Buffalo Wild Wings for some wings and a few beers. Ask him what his favorite food is, and he will tell you, “Any Chinese Buffet.” In fact, for years, Roger has been on a Seafood diet: he sees food and he eats it. My point is that Roger is a common man with a great heart, and that heart is why he’s a Bama fan’s favorite.

So how did it happen? How did this man who bleeds Crimson fall in love with a woman who has family members who were among the first students at Auburn University?

Roger, who played at Alabama from 1986 to 1990, found himself working at a Montgomery radio station in 1999. Paige’s sister-in-law, who worked with Roger, asked Shultzy if he’d be interested in taking Paige to a cotillion. Being the romantic that he was, Roger told the woman that he wasn’t interested in paying for a tux and taking a blind date to a fancy party, but he’d love to take Paige to a high school football banquet (like I said, a real romantic). Paige agreed, and off went the couple to the banquet. Something magical then happened: Paige loved every minute of it, and better yet, Roger’s players from Sidney Lanier High School took to Paige. Cue the stars and fireworks, as an Alabama-Auburn couple was formed! Paige adored Roger’s humor, and Roger adored Paige’s smarts — in fact Paige not only had a degree from Auburn, but a Masters degree in environmental science from Samford University, a degree Roger didn’t know how to spell. And wouldn’t you figure? On that first date, Roger picked up Paige in his red Ford Probe (Roll Tide!). What did Paige drive that year? A blue Ford Probe (War Eagle!). Was this a sign?

Oh, the relationship was a process; after all, the first Alabama-Auburn sporting event Roger and Paige attended was a basketball game. Roger soon learned that his girlfriend absolutely adored those Auburn Tigers — Roger knew right then that this partnership would take some work. And you know something? Work it did, as Paige began to learn that her boyfriend’s kind heart and sense of humor were something to behold. Wasn’t Roger the same Bama player who, after his Crimson Tide beat Tennessee for a fifth straight time, told the media in Knoxville back in 1990, “We should have to pay taxes up here because we own the place!”? Yep, that was Roger. And Roger’s adventures were just warming up.

The year was 2008, and Roger and Paige had been married for seven years — their son Ivan was six years old. Roger had an idea: How about he audition for the network TV show, “The Biggest Loser?” After all, he could stand to lose a few. For Roger, dropping a few pounds was like throwing a suitcase off the Titanic — he needed a bigger challenge: welcoming the pressure a national TV show would bring would certainly motivate him. Roger not only made it to the national stage, he welcomed world-famous trainer Bob Harper pushing him. And what a result: as the nation watched, Roger lost 164 pounds, finished as the 2008 runner-up and saw America fall in love with his larger than life personality.

Yet, Roger wasn’t done.

“The Biggest Loser” star would soon appear on “Oprah” and “The Jay Leno Show.” The common man would also find himself appearing on “The Price Is Right,” where he actually won a chair and a year’s supply of cold sore cream. I’m here to tell you that those are two absolutely perfect prizes for Roger. Sure, he was a Bammer, but how could Paige not love this man?

Today at 52, the former Alabama football star walks with a slight limp, his dues to football paid. This weekend, Roger and Paige will enjoy watching the Iron Bowl from their home in Mobile. The catch? They will be watching the game in separate rooms. You see, despite 18 years of wedded bliss, the Iron Bowl can still do that to a couple. And when the game ends? Regardless of the outcome, the couple will fix some dinner while holding their tongues. Yes, a former Alabama football star can marry an Auburn grad, and that mixed marriage can succeed.

WATCH A CLIP FROM MY INTERVIEW WITH ROGER HERE.

Regardless for which team you root, enjoy Saturday’s Iron Bowl. If the Tigers win, send along a “War Eagle” to Paige, and if Bama wins, send along a “Roll Tide” and a few beers to Roger: two down-home neighbors who are proving that in the midst of the Tide and Tigers rivalry, love is winning out.

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

13 hours ago

Gov. Ivey meets with Dr. Deborah Birx about COVID-19

Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) on Wednesday hosted Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, at the Alabama State Capitol.

Ivey, Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and Birx met first in the governor’s office, before moving to a roundtable discussion with various state health care professionals, members of the business and religious communities and lawmakers.

Gina Maiola, Ivey’s press secretary, said in a release that “Dr. Birx emphasized very strongly that this is a critical time for the South to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

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Per Maiola, Birx also lauded the governor’s new statewide mask mandate as “brilliant” and integral to keeping Alabama businesses open and operating safely.

“A variety of topics were discussed and questions were asked on anything from testing, to Remdesivir and reopening schools and churches safely. Dr. Birx explained that early on the virus seemed to be concentrated in large cities in the Northeast, however, this has not proven to be accurate in the South. She expressed how the South, specifically Alabama, has high rates statewide. Dr. Birx told the governor that she was personally worried about the South, which is why she visited our state in person. Governor Ivey is appreciative for her time and knowledge and looks forward to keeping an open dialogue with her and the Trump Administration as we work through the pandemic,” the governor’s spokesperson concluded.

RELATED: Doug Jones: Ivey’s statewide mask mandate ‘the right thing’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

13 hours ago

Doug Jones: Ivey’s statewide mask mandate ‘the right thing’

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) is backing Governor Kay Ivey’s statewide mask mandate, which goes into effect Thursday at 5:00 p.m. CT.

Jones is a member of the U.S. Senate Health Committee and recently hosted Dr. Anthony Fauci on his weekly live-streamed press conference.

Alabama’s junior senator also released a campaign ad encouraging members of the public to wear face masks.

In a statement on Thursday, Jones said, “Governor Ivey did the right thing today by enacting a statewide mask policy.”

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“Unlike her counterparts in other Deep South states, Governor Ivey is clearly following the advice of health care professionals,” he continued. “Many Alabama communities in COVID-19 hotspots have already taken this step, which will help limit the spread of this virus and reduce the strain on our struggling hospitals and health care workers, and it just makes sense to do it on a statewide basis.”

“We all want to move past this deadly, disruptive pandemic. By taking the simple steps of wearing a mask and social distancing, we can each do our part to protect lives and livelihoods,” Jones concluded.

RELATED: Ainsworth: Statewide mask mandate ‘an overstep’ — ‘One-size-fits-all, big government requirement’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

13 hours ago

World Games to feature flag football for first time ever at Birmingham 2022 event

The World Games 2022 Birmingham on Wednesday announced that flag football will join its existing lineup of 32 unique, multi-disciplinary sports.

This international multisport event features sports and disciplines not included in the Olympics. The event is typically held one year after the Olympics.

Since the 2020 Olympics were postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Games in Birmingham originally scheduled for 2021 were also pushed back a year.

Wednesday’s announcement was made in partnership with the International World Games Association (IWGA), National Football League (NFL) and International Federation of American Football (IFAF).

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RELATED: World Games 2022 Birmingham names Charles Barkley as honorary co-chair — ‘Chance to show the world what this community and its people are all about’

The 2022 event in Birmingham will be the first edition of the World Games on American soil since 1981.

Hosted at historic Legion Field, flag football at the World Games 2022 Birmingham will be presented by the NFL and feature eight men’s teams and eight women’s teams from around the world.

“We are grateful that the NFL recognizes the significance that The World Games 2022 will have as the first major international sporting event in the United States coming out of this global pandemic,” stated Nick Sellers, CEO of the World Games 2022.

As the current reigning world champions, the United States men’s and women’s teams both pre-qualify. The remaining teams will be selected through the IFAF qualifying process.

“The world is longing to reconnect, and Birmingham, Alabama will play a pivotal role in that reconnection,” Sellers added. “The NFL’s partnership sends a signal to every company in the world that associating their brand with this special event is important for the world to see.”

The World Games 2022 Birmingham will take place July 7-17, 2022, and will generate an estimated $256 million in economic impact.

“Football is a staple of Southern sports and will be a welcome addition to The 2022 World Games lineup,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. “Non-contact sports like flag football are a great way to open up competition to all skill levels. That type of accessibility and inclusion is what The World Games is all about, providing incredible experiences and lasting memories for participants and spectators to enjoy. Birmingham can’t wait for the world to join us in 2022.”

NFL FLAG is an NFL licensed property of more than 1,600 locally-operated leagues and over 500,000 youth athletes across all 50 states. NFL FLAG has regular participation from more than 3 million youth and adults in the United States.

“The addition of flag football to the World Games brings tremendous global value as the NFL looks to expand the NFL FLAG brand worldwide,” commented Izell Reese, executive director of NFL FLAG. “With support from NFL Global Ambassador and NFL FLAG Chairman Russell Wilson, we’ve committed to creating more opportunities for athletes around the world to play flag, and we look forward to teaming up with the City of Birmingham and the World Games Committee to share the NFL FLAG experience with even more athletes and fans.”

“We are so excited to bring flag football to the international stage during The World Games 2022 in Birmingham,” added Seattle Seahawks quarterback, Super Bowl champion and NFL FLAG chairman Russell Wilson. “Flag football expands the sport of football by providing easier access to our game for men and women from all walks of life. With a huge international platform like this, we’ll create opportunities for kids and adults around the world to experience and learn the game of football, while helping grow the sport’s global popularity.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

‘Alabama is focused on the future’: 21st century workforce partnership launches

Stakeholders on Wednesday announced the launch of JumpStartAL, a private-public partnership to help carry out Alabama’s bold strategy for the future of workforce development.

A release outlined that through using leading edge virtual reality (VR) training solutions from job simulator TRANSFRVR, JumpStartAL will offer new education and training programs to develop the Yellowhammer State’s next generation of highly skilled workers.

Private sector partners spearheading the initiative include Alabama Power Company, Altec Industries, the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), and Balch and Bingham.

“Alabama is focused on the future,” Governor Kay Ivey said in a statement. “JumpStartAL will help ensure that we are positioned to attract the jobs of tomorrow by educating and training Alabamians to take advantage of the opportunities those jobs will provide.”

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The initiative will reportedly highlight career paths needed for Alabama to meet its goal to increase its workforce by 500,000 highly skilled workers by 2025.

The statewide network of partners supporting the initiative also includes the Alabama Community College System; Ready to Work, which is operated by Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT); the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education; the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development; Shelby County economic development organization 58 INC; Central Six Alabama Works; and the Alabama Department of Commerce.

JumpStartAL training modules are created with input from industry partners and will help participants develop specific skills needed for jobs, beginning with manufacturing and expanding into other industries in the future. Training is available free of charge for anyone interested in a career in the skilled trades, including high school students, veterans, workers in existing industries, the unemployed and underemployed.

The initiative will initially roll out at five Alabama community colleges, with more campuses and training facilities added in the future:

• Coastal Alabama Community College
• Enterprise State Community College
• Jefferson State Community College
• Lawson State Community College
• Shelton State Community College

“Now, more than ever, we must be engaged in new and inventive ways to train the next generation of skilled workers,” stated Alabama Community College System Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker. “Our colleges are committed to meeting students where they are and helping them achieve a better future. Hands-on virtual reality training is a means of achieving that goal.”

The statewide business community’s backing of the initiative through both job placement strategies and financial efforts is critical to JumpStartAL’s success.

“It is a great privilege for Altec to be partnering with so many outstanding companies and organizations throughout Alabama on such an innovative workforce development initiative,” commented Jay Eichelberger, general manager for Altec.

“JumpStartAL demonstrates Alabama’s leadership role in developing skill-aligned training programs that help broaden employment and economic opportunities,” Eichelberger added. “It will ensure that those entering the workforce are much better prepared to succeed, while allowing employers within the state to utilize state-of- the-art training technology that is focused on specific job skills and requirements.”

Additionally, the initiative will focus on addressing new challenges and opportunities that arise as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The organizations and companies that make up JumpStartAL have a shared vision of ensuring Alabama and its citizens are well positioned for a prosperous and inclusive future in the 21st century economy,” said Leigh Davis, vice president of economic and community development for Alabama Power. “We are honored to join with them to help make this vision a reality.”

A full list of JumpStartAL partners can be found here.

Companies interested in joining the partnership can visit the initiative’s website here. Individuals wanting more information on training locations and how to sign up can learn more here.

The rollout of JumpStartAL comes after the National Governors Association recently featured the State of Alabama’s workforce efforts in a countrywide guide.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

Trump: Doug Jones ‘doesn’t represent the views of the people of Alabama’

Before boarding Marine One outside the White House on Wednesday afternoon, President Donald Trump was asked by a reporter to react to Tommy Tuberville winning Alabama’s Republican U.S. Senate nomination.

Trump had endorsed Tuberville in the GOP runoff and reacted to the impressive victory on Tuesday night in a tweet right after the race was called.

Speaking to the White House press pool on Wednesday, Trump said, “I’m very happy that Tommy Tuberville won the race. I think he’s going to be a great senator.”

The president then criticized U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), who Trump the previous day called a “Super Liberal puppet” for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

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RELATED: Jones: Representing the majority of Alabamians not ‘the be all to end all’ (VIDEO)

“We don’t have a good senator there right now in Jones,” Trump lamented. “He’s not doing the job. He should be doing a much better job. Certainly he doesn’t represent the views of the people of Alabama — that’s for sure. So we’re not happy about him at all. I don’t think the people of Alabama are happy with their representation in the Senate.”

“And Tommy Tuberville is going to be a great senator. He was a great coach. I spoke to another coach last night — unrelated — and he said, ‘Tommy Tuberville was a great coach and he’s a great guy.’ Someday I’ll tell you who said that, but he’s somebody respected,” the president continued.

“So it was a great — it was a tremendous win for Tommy Tuberville last night. I’m very happy about it,” Trump concluded.

Watch:

Tuberville and Jones will face each other at the ballot box in November’s general election, when Trump will also be up for reelection.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn