There’s a story that back in the 1960s when legendary football coach and racist symbol Paul “Bear” Bryant was the coach at the University of Alabama, he was approached by federal agents who told him that he had to integrate his team. Coach Bryant–whose protÃ©gÃ© include “Broadway” Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler, among others–resisted the entreaty.
It was Alabama, in the 1960s, The Bear complained. The governor of the state, George Corley Wallace, would have none of it, he insisted. The feds put their foot down. Integration was the order of the day.
But the alumni would withdraw their support, the Bear replied. He couldn’t have an African American player on the Crimson Tide squad, it just wouldn’t be right. It wouldn’t work, he complained and complained. But the feds said, they would at least have to let a Black player try out for the squad.
Finally, Coach Bryant relented. Bring the player and he would let him try out for the squad, he said. When the feds showed up with the player, the coach told him he would first have to return a punt. The Black player awaited the ball all by himself. When the ball was in the air, the coach told all the rest of the players on the team, offense and defense to cover the punt, all of them. “Go get him!” the coach said.
The Black try-out caught the ball and began to run toward the mob. The squad rushed forward. They collided at mid-field in a cloud of dust. Then, as the dust cleared, the Black player broke free and began to sprint toward the goal line.
The coach jumped to his feet and pumped his fist into the air. “Look at that Puerto Rican go!” he shouted. As the story goes, the player made the team. Miracles do happen. Continue reading