Don't believe everything you see, read
Jim Grammer, When it was a game
They still tell stories about Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. Some are a stretch of the truth and some are just outright lies.
Even made-for-TV movies distort the real character of this great coach and legendary figure, especially here in Alabama.
If I had to name one thing about Coach Bryant that made him so successful, I would have to say he always surrounded himself with good people. He was extremely selective when picking the people on his staff and they had to do it for much more than money, because he purposely saw to it they were the lowest paid assistants around.
He was very selective of the people who played for him, too. Any true Alabama fan of those days can tell you that many "great" high school athletes fizzled out and were never heard of again. On the other hand, several average players went on to be very good college athletes simply because they were willing to work hard and had determination. Both qualities carried great value to Coach Bryant.
There are still many of Coach Bryant's sayings still repeated on locker room walls and in pep talks. One I like is he always said, "Find out quick who your players are, but don't make them prove it everyday."
What he meant by this was find out early the ones who are willing to give you all they got and then some, but don't take them out and beat them up everyday in practice. The harshness of practice sessions in Coach Bryant's program is legendary. Case in point, "The Junction Boys."
Truth is that the Junction Boys didn't go through anything worse that just about any team that Coach Bryant had anything to do with.
I still remember the Saturday scrimmage on Thomas Field the Saturday before we beat USC out in Los Angeles. By the end of practice, five had been sent to Druid City Hospital for heat exhaustion.
Need I say more?
Anyway, there were some players who were purposely taken out of rigid drills and those that were sent into the dressing room early, all because he knew they were his players.
Take Lee Roy Jordan, for example. The senior All-American linebacker virtually saw no contact during the week and was given light duty like snapping the ball back to punters and such.
Over on another part of the practice field, though, an assistant was having a full speed form tackling drill and was not getting what he wanted from some of the lower-echelon players.
He sent a trainer to "go get Lee Roy." Lee was a good distance away snapping for the punters and when the trainer got his attention. He slowly reached down, picked up his helmet and, with a slow trot, headed off in the direction of the tackling drill.
When he arrived, the assistant coach said, "Lee Roy, will you please show these jaybirds how we form tackle here at Alabama?"
Lee Roy slowly put his helmet on, slowly snapped his chinstrap and got into position. The player with the ball charged, and Lee Roy hit him so hard every player and coach on Thomas Field could here the pop.
The runners helmet flew straight into the air and the ball went in a totally different direction. The poor guy just lay there with the breath knocked out of him.
Lee Roy unsnapped his chinstrap and jogged off to continue snapping for the punters … Easy duty.