I hold a record that stands today
Jim Grammer, When it was a game
I wasn't a very good football player when I was at Alabama in the late sixties and early seventies, but I believe I still hold a record there that has yet to be broken. Its not a record that you can find in the media guides and in the Alumni News, and matter of fact, it's not a record that I am very proud of, but it's true.
The first varsity game I played in at Alabama was against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. in 1969. We left Tuscaloosa immediately after practice on a terribly hot September Friday afternoon and two hours later landed in Virginia where it was raining with a temperature in the low 40s. Saturday was no different, cold and rainy.
We left the hotel where we stayed in Roanoke, Va., and began the slow bus ride through the two-lane winding mountain roads to Blacksburg. The traffic was terrible. We were supposed to have a State Trooper escort, but things got all mixed-up in the bumper-to-bumper traffic. Cars began to pull in front of our bus, between the escort and the bus, making Coach Bryant very irritated. He realizes we were way off of our time schedule and if things didn't improve, we were going to be late for the game.
Becoming very upset at the private cars that were forcing their way between the bus and the State Trooper escort, Coach Bryant tells the bus driver, "If I thought you could do it without hurting anybody, I'd tell you to run over the SOB's."
We finally arrived at the stadium. We're late and there was basically no warm-ups, we have to go out on the field for the kick-off. Everything was hurried-up and everyone is a little off their normal routine.
Richard and I were alternating at the center position, but he starts the game. We received the ball and after two plays moved the ball out close to our own forty-yard line.
On third down, Coach Bryant reaches around and grabs me by the jersey and sends me into the game. I begin running on to the field when this student manager grabs me and sprays this sticky, gooey stuff on both of my hands. It was supposed to help you grip the ball in cold, wet weather.
I'm in the game, my very first game on a third down and five yards to go, and the try for the first down falls short. We have to punt. I come to line of scrimmage and suddenly it hits me, there are sixty thousand people watching me. I grip the ball for the snap back to the punter like I have done fifty thousand times and I feel the sticky, gooey substance really doing the job. As I snap the ball the sticky, gooey stuff works so well that it prevents me from releasing the ball and the snap goes a good 10 to 15 feet over the punter, Frank Mann's head.
The line of scrimmage was about the 37-yard line and the ball didn't hit the ground until somewhere near the end zone. Frank turns and runs for the ball and fields it on the second or third bounce and punts it on the run. The kick went about sixty yards and rolled dead on the Virginia Tech 17.
When I got to the sidelines I was looking for a place to hide and I saw Coach Bryant pushing people out of his way as he tried to get to me. I thought he was going to kill me, but I somehow survived. Then I saw Frank Mann pushing people out of the way as he was coming straight for me. I knew he was going to finish the job. I'll not repeat what they said to me, but my reply was, "Frank, I made you a hero." He didn't seem amused.
Anyway, I believe I am correct in stating that I still hold the, not so popular record at Bama for the longest snap from the center during a regulation game.