Whether it's college football or any other sport you might be invested in, we've all become conditioned to anticipate the broadcaster's voices that guide us through the game via audio or visual. For the Alabama Crimson Tide, that voice belongs to Eli Gold, the radio voice for the football team — and he's officially back in the booth after more than a year of fighting cancer and other medical issues.
Gold's voice has been the one you'd hear on the radio for Crimson Tide games since 1988. Throughout that time, he's called seven national title games, 11 SEC championships and an astonishing 35 bowl matchups.
The voice of Alabama Football is also the voice of victory.
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) September 9, 2023
His voice was something that the Tide faithful always could depend on when listening in to how their team was performing. But that all changed about a year ago.
"I woke up seven, eight hours later, whatever it was, and my legs didn't work. My legs did not work," Gold remembered. "I could not walk. I couldn't get out of bed. Nothing. I don't know what happened."
His wife, Claudette, got him into a wheelchair and to a hospital; but for more than 200 days, doctors couldn't figure out what caused this.
Over that time, Gold, 69, lost 140 pounds, didn't feel like eating, and lost out on the 2022 Crimson Tide season.
Then, on Dec. 23, 2022, Gold developed another health ailment.
"I ended with the worst case of hiccups you could ever imagine," he said. The spasms were violent and continuous. "Not one hiccup now and then another one in five or six seconds or eight or ten seconds. But it was hiccup, hiccup, hiccup, hiccup. ... I mean, one right after the next, after the next, after the next. I couldn't even catch my breath. I couldn't breathe. And when they investigated, they found a malignant growth in my esophagus."
Doctors discovered that it was a tumor located near his vocal cords, of all places.
Gold had lymphoma.
"So, December 23, it was, 'Merry Christmas, Eli, you have cancer,'" Gold said. "But oddly enough, there was relief in the diagnosis because now there was a target. Now we could actually start a treatment with a specific goal instead of feeling like we were guessing all the time."
The legendary broadcaster started chemotherapy the same day the Crimson Tide defeated Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl.
During this time, there was an incident when doctors warned Claudette and and Gold's daughter, Elise, that Gold may not make it through the night. His skin became red, and his vitals were sliding. Fortunately, they figured out that he was allergic to an antibiotic he was taking.
After dealing with lymphoma and the mysterious issue that left him unable to use his legs, Gold rang the bell on April 21, 2023. The bell signified that Gold had completed his cancer treatment.
Praise the Lord and Roll Tide! My friend and co-worker Eli Gold just rang the bell completing his cancer treatment! pic.twitter.com/JhTdc5VHJ7
— Tom Stipe (@TomStipe_RTR) April 21, 2023
The day after he rang the bell was the Alabama spring game. He almost returned for it but decided not to. He needed to be prepared. However, leading up to the season, he called scrimmages to get back in the groove of things and voiced some Crimson Tide promos.
For the 2023 season, Gold will be calling the home games while Chris Stewart takes over things on the road. He filled in for Gold last season. He did say, though, that if the Tide make the national championship game in Houston in January 2024, he'll be there.
His first game back was the Tide's season opener against Middle Tennessee. This was his first live-game action since Nov. 20, 2021.
"There is a tradition in any program, and Eli's been a part of that tradition for a long, long, time," says 'Bama coach Nick Saban, who does his weekly radio show alongside Gold every autumn Thursday night. "When people listen, they expect to hear Eli Gold."
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