What "Remembering the Bear" Means to Me

Today is a big day for the Alabama football family because it would have been Coach Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant’s 100th birthday.  As always here at gridirongirl, we don’t like to bring you stories and information that you can get anywhere else., Here, our stories have heart.  This is a love story, one of how a young girl fell in love with football.

As far back as I can remember, some of my favorite memories are of watching football with my Dad.  I guess most five and six year old girls are either playing with their dolls or playing outside, but not me!  I was always front and center, with my red and white poms, ready to watch!  I would wear my Alabama shirt and sit criss cross apple sauce in front of the televisions.  Yes, I said televisions, as in more than one. Yes, even way back then.  If there was more than one game my Dad wanted to follow, we would have the radio on move the only other television out of the bedroom to the living room.  Some days, we may be listening to the Tide on the radio while watching two other teams play on the two television sets that would have the volume turned all the way down.  Sounds kind of crazy doesn’t it?  I’ve had people ask me, “how can I listen to the game and know what is going on while watching an entirely different game or even two?”  Well, all I can say is practice and a great imagination.  I can visualize the plays in my mind as clearly when they are on the radio as they are if I am watching them in HD on television.

When I first started watching football, Coach Bear Bryant was the head coach at Alabama.  I remember him distinctly- the way he paced the field, sometimes leaning on the goal post and just observing his team from afar.  What I remember most however is that haunting voice…so distinct and so intense.  I remember watching the Coach Bear Bryant Show after games where he discussed plays while munching on Golden Flake potato chips and sipping Coca Cola.  The one thing that never went unnoticed in my young mind was how much respect my Dad and everyone I knew had for him.  I mean, he had never even met him. How could my Dad speak so highly of a man he had never met?  It seems Coach had that effect on everyone.

In my house, as in many others, football was a way of life. It was just something  we all loved. Then it happened… In a span of six months, I started school, lost my mother and then, a man I felt like I truly loved, Coach Bryant.  You see, The Bear retired from football just a few months after I lost my Mom.  It was only 4 weeks after retiring from being Alabama’s Head Coach that Coach Bryant passed away from a heart attack.  I guess football really was his life and once that was gone, he was too. Honestly, It was like the President died. People CRIED, we all cried!  It was the end of an era, the end of a legend and things would never be the same.

Looking back, one thing did stay the same, and that was my passion for Alabama football.  It is a love that cannot be undone.  I can honestly say I have two men to thank for that, my Dad and Coach Bear Bryant.

See ladies, you just never know what kind of story makes a gridirongirl.  I have shared my story and now, we’d LOVE to hear yours.

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