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100 years of Neyland: Vols superfans married to Big Orange football

Earl and Judy Brown are a fixture inside Neyland Stadium. The pair have been season ticket holders since 1972.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — While Neyland Stadium has stood tall for a century, it's the fans in the seats who make it special.

For a Vol superfans couple, Earl and Judy Brown, bleeding orange has always been a way of life. Some would say they are the glue holding it all together.

"Nothing is like Neyland," Earl Brown said. "You just get a warm and fuzzy feeling when you walk in."

Neyland is a second home for the Browns. They've had season passes for football games since 1972.

"Even though we've been going to games for a long time, we were not here for the first game," Earl said. "We can't take credit for that."

While their seats have changed over the years from section PP row 26 to the north end zone ZZ12, the vantage point they have had for a decade in section T takes the cake.

"Judy's eyes started getting bad, so we moved down to Section T, but I kind of feels like Judy and Earl Brown should sit in section T for Tennessee," Earl said.

Their seats are right on the main level walkway.

"Well, I mean, they could be on the 50-yard line and they're only on the 45-yard line, but I mean, that's still pretty good," Earl said.

Judy said her favorite part about having season tickets in the same spot each year is the fact they make friends with the people around them.

Credit: WBIR

Married to the game, the pair is a fixture in Neyland Stadium, famous for their spirit. Strangers often approach them asking for pictures.

"In a way, it's kind of funny. But in another way it makes you feel good that people recognize you as being a big Vols fan," Earl said.

They're anything but fair-weather fans, with the keepsakes like a signed football helmet, ticket stubs and pins to prove it.

Even their house is filled to the brim with big orange memorabilia.

Credit: Earl Brown

Bleeding orange runs deep in the family tree. There's plenty of pictures of the Brown's kids with Vol football legends, like Johnny Majors.

Credit: WBIR

In the time they've spent cheering on the Vols, they've felt the ups and downs.

"From '95 to 2005 when we beat Alabama 9 years out of 10, that was a great decade," Earl said.

They get to every game early and never leave before the game is done, including the 1998 Arkansas game.

"Judy and I didn't miss it, because we were right here in our seats to see every second of it," Earl said. "So I mean, come early and stay to the game is over with. That's our policy."

Even in the pandemic, Earl didn't miss a game.

"Judy's doctor told her not to go because of the COVID virus, so she didn't," Earl said. "My doctor told me the same thing. He said, 'You know good and well you have no business going,' and then he followed it up by saying, 'But I know you're gonna go so just be careful,' and so I did try to be as careful as I could."

Judy is excited to be back in section T.

"I didn't go to any last year and I'm ready," Judy said.

Even in an empty stadium, whispers of the past still ring in their ears.

"Nothing is like Neyland Stadium," Earl said.

Earl and Judy say they would rather watch the game with tens of thousands of their closest friends in Neyland instead of watching it on TV.

If you're watching a game at home, there's a good chance you could see them on your screen cheering on the orange and white.