I’m watching the Alabama-Missouri game. I’m eating boiled peanuts. It’s the first time I’ve seen college football since the pandemic began some 300 years ago. To say I’m happy is like saying the Pope is an okay guy.
I don’t want to get all mushy about Alabama football because I don’t want to be “that” kind of fan. You know the one I’m talking about.
The football fanatic whose conversations are always about sports. A guy who, even if he is at, let’s say, a baby christening, will talk about the importance of a well-formed wishbone offense.
These are men so painfully obsessed that they name their kids after head coaches.
So I’m not going to tell you how I was born during Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s farewell game, the last of his career. A game in which the Crimson Tide smeared the Fighting Illini into proverbial skidmarks.
Neither will I tell you about how, during the instant I drew my first breath, my father was facing a delivery-room television that broadcasted Paul Bryant’s final game.
I won’t tell you
how when my father heard a newborn baby crying, he was so moved by paternal emotion that he sincerely said, “Ssssshhhhhh! It’s third down!”
What I will tell you is that my father liked Alabama’s head coach.
Paul William Bryant was born in the late summer of 1913 in a sleepy Cleveland County, Arkansas backwater. His hometown of Moro Bottom wasn’t even a town at all. Only seven families lived in the community. All dirt farmers.
Paul was a large, lanky baby. He had feet like rowboats, hands like ball gloves, and a stern, righteous face that looked like he helped write the Ten Commandments.
He was the eleventh of twelve births, and friends said he was a fearless human being.
When I say “fearless,” I mean that in his boyhood, Paul once wrestled a bear…