By Gilbert Cruz
Updated August 13, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

In Alabama, where the late coach Paul ”Bear” Bryant is still revered like a god, gridiron fans occasionally go overboard. To understand why, ‘Bama native and New York Times reporter Warren St. John buys a bottom-barrel motor home and rambles across the Southeast for a season alongside fellow University of Alabama devotees. While he tosses in some well-trod theories on the roots of fandom, Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer,real draw is the motley mix of characters he encounters: the 83-year-old gent who attended 500 consecutive games, the husband who had his wife drugged with Demerol after a gallbladder attack in order to make the Alabama — Ohio State matchup, and the couple who skipped their daughter’s wedding for a game. Through them, we see the thin line between team allegiance and utter insanity.