There's dedication to college football, and then there's dedication. Patrick Yarber's dedication far outdistances your car decals and sweatshirts and tattoos. Yarber is on the verge of achieving a near-unthinkable feat: attending a football game in the home stadium of every single one of the 125 Division I FBS schools.
Think about that for a second. All 125 stadiums. It's taken Yarber 35 seasons to pull off the feat, starting with a Vanderbilt game in Yarber's hometown of Nashville. But there's another side to this story: Yarber is a victim of macular degeneration in his eyes. He's at 20 percent of normal eyesight and fading. It's only a matter of time before he loses his sight entirely. He has to sit a foot from the television, and he trains his binoculars on Jumbotrons on game days.
ESPN's College Football GameDay spotlighted Yarber, 53, in a moving piece before Saturday's games began. "Every morning I wake up and see daylight coming through the blinds, it’s like a small victory to start the day," Yarber said. "I don't have time to be depressed. I'm too busy going to ballgames."
Yarber plots each journey in the spring, and he's now amassed 1,153 flights in his quest. Stadium No. 124 was the Georgia Dome a couple weeks ago for Georgia State, and No. 125 is the Kibbie Dome, home of the University of Idaho. He's scheduled to take in the Idaho-Old Dominion game this Saturday.
As ESPN noted, he's seen everyone from Herschel Walker to Desmond Howard to Peyton Manning to Tim Tebow. And he never leaves a game early, because he never knows when it might be the last game he'll see.