HOUNDSTOOTH, PIGSKIN & TRADITION | ALABAMA’S PAUL “BEAR” BRYANT

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Paul “Bear” Bryant (left) with baseball’s legendary A’s owner, Charles O. Finley or “Charley O” (right).

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From the desk of Contributing Editor, Eli M Getson–

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The other day I was watching the Philadelphia Eagles play an entertaining one against the New York Giants.  When NBC did the inevitable sideline shot of Eagles coach Andy Reid, I could not help but notice that he was clad in an all black nylon get-up emblazoned with Eagles’ logo that made him look like an NFL version of “Big Pussy” from The Sopranos.  This “NFL Licensed Apparel meets Sergio Tacchini track suit look” is pretty comical on such a big dude, and it made we wonder– why is it that coaches are not required to wear a coat and tie on the sidelines anymore for the sake of decorum?  It may help the guy who is in the midst of a 4-12 season keep his job–  or at least help him look more in control.  The sidelines have become another place where “Casual Friday” has spread its insidious reach.

Whatever happened to the tradition of the team coach actually getting dressed like a grown man?  It makes me long for the last guy who dressed with some style and respect–  like he was going to church. Maybe it’s because for him the sidelines were his church– Paul “Bear” Bryant.

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Legendary coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant in a familiar pose– leaning against the goalpost.

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With the Crimson Tide vying for the National title in the Rose Bowl on January 7th, it’s only fitting we pay homage to Paul “Bear” Bryant– a player and coach, synonymous with Alabama football.  He also did more for houndstooth than anyone short of the Scotsman who invented the pattern.  Bryant played “the other end” to NFL Hall-of-Famer, fellow Arkansan, and lifelong friend, Don Hutson on Alabama’s 1934 National championship team– and was second team all SEC that year.  After graduating in 1936, Bryant began his coaching career which finally led him back to Alabama in 1958.  “Bear” Bryant said about his return to Alabama– “Momma called.  And when Momma calls, you just have to come runnin’.” By 1961 Bryant had his first National title, and would lead the Tide to five more in ’64, ’65, ’73, ’78, ‘and ’79. Along the way he would coach such greats as Lee Roy Jordan, Joe Namath, Kenny Stabler, Ozzie Newsome, Slyvester Croom, and Dwight Stephenson.

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