Legendary Alabama play-by-play announcer Eli Gold announced on Thursday his plans to return to the Crimson Tide broadcasting team for the first football game of the season on September 2.
“The Voice of the Crimson Tide” missed the 2022 season due to over a year’s worth of health issues, including cancer, landing him in hospitals and a nursing home for around six months. During his absence, Chris Stewart took over the play-by-play duties for the Crimson Tide.
Thursday, Gold told WNSP radio in Mobile that his final chemotherapy session is next Friday and that while his original plan to be back in the booth for the A-Day game on April 22 wasn’t going to happen, he would do whatever it took to be there for the Crimson Tide’s opening game.
“Lord willing, and the creek don’t rise, I am planning to be back in time for the start of the regular season,” Gold said.
“I may show up with a walker, and if that’s the case, big darn deal,” he added. “There’s tons of people that use walkers in this world. If I can get by with a cane, I’ll do that. Whatever it is.”
In August 2022, it was announced that Gold was sidelined with health issues and would not call games for that season. Just months later, Gold jumped on the Crimson Tide Sports Network to inform everyone that he was not sick but was battling orthopedic issues.
“My legs stopped working way back over a year ago,” Gold explained. “I woke up one morning, and my legs wouldn’t work. I mean, I went to bed -- I was walking, I walk into the bedroom. I wake up the next morning, my legs don’t work.”
Gold made multiple visits to hospitals, rehab facilities and even a skilled nursing facility searching for a diagnosis to no prevail, but he was not going to give up without a fight.
"They just could not figure out what the deal was,” Gold said. “They’d give me steroids to deal with one thing, and well, the steroids was masking something else. It was one of those things where they would say we’ve got to send you home. I would say, we’re not going home without a diagnosis.”
It wasn’t until Gold got a bad case of the hiccups that were causing him breathing difficulties, that he finally got a cancer diagnosis on Christmas Eve.
“I couldn’t even catch my breath,” Gold said. “I was struggling to breathe because I couldn’t get any breath because I was hiccuping. The doctor, who they brought in to figure this deal out with the hiccups, is the one who stumbled upon what that was doing and why it was happening. And because of that, I had cancer.”
Over the length of his battle with cancer, Gold has lost roughly 140 pounds and gained some of his ability to walk with assistance from a walker or cane, but there's still work left to be done as he is still undergoing physical therapy.
“I do walk best with a walker,” he said. “It’s not embarrassing - if you’ve got to use it, you use it. I walk best with a walker. I can walk fairly well with a cane. I can also walk well without either one of them, but nobody really wants me to do that. You know what I’m saying? They’re afraid I’ll take a tumble and then not get up, because my legs are not yet strong enough to lift me. I say to lift me, we all chuckle, but I’m not the [size] guy I used to be.”
The Tide play host to Middle Tennessee for their season opener and Gold's scheduled return on September 2.
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