The Bear and the practice tire

Trip Start Sep 04, 2010
Trip End Sep 30, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Alabama
Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bear Bryant Museum, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Otherwise known as The Holy Shrine, Matt. Your great-uncle Craig, that's my brother you know, is going to meet us there and show us around. He says he hasn't seen it himself yet.

Legend had it The Bear could walk on water. All I know is this: he came to Alabama in 1958, when your Papa Don and I lived in student housing. Papa Don was as big a football fan as there ever was, and he was beside himself with excitement over the hiring of The Bear. I worked at a law firm downtown, and your Papa Don worked at Delview Dairy as a cashier in the afternoons, after his classes. The Bear set up a practice field that was halfway between our apartment and the Dairy, so every evening after work I'd go pick up your Papa Don and we'd stop at a greasy takeout joint just across the street from the field. Then we'd eat hamburgers and watch football practice, boy, was your Papa Don happy!

Everybody said The Bear watched over the practice from a tire, and I'd sit there in the car every night munching hamburgers and wondering where in the world the tire was, I didn't see one and I didn't know how that would help with a football practice anyhow. Of course, I didn't know much about football. I was just glad Papa Don was happy.

It was years later, after I moved to Washington state, that it came to me one day what the Bear really did. He watched over the practice field from a TOWER. And me born with a Southern accent that I've never lost, I can't believe I didn't get it! I love that story.

Of course now football practice is a closely guarded secret, and that fence is all covered over, no see-through. The Bear turned Alabama football into big business, for all that followed, like Coach Saban now. But I'll bet Saban has a "practice tire" too.



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