Gee Mail

All that stuff that the grandparents forward….


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At a Touchdown Club meeting many years ago, Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant told
the following story:

I had just been named the new head coach at Alabama and was off in my old
car down in South Alabama recruiting a prospect who was supposed to have 
been a pretty good player,
and I was having trouble finding the place.

Getting hungry, I spied an old cinderblock building with a small sign out
front that simply said "Restaurant." I pull up, go in, and every head in the 
place turns to stare at me. Seems
I'm the only white fella in the place.

But the food smelled good, so I skip a table and go up to a cement bar and 

A big ole man in a tee shirt and cap comes over and says, "What do you 

I told him I needed lunch and what did they have today?

He says, "You probably won't like it here. Today we're having chitlins,
collard greens and black-eyed peas with cornbread.

I'll bet you don't even know what chitlins are, do you?"

I looked him square in the eye and said, "I'm from Arkansas , and I've
probably eaten a mile of them. Sounds like I'm in the right place."

They all smiled as he left to serve me up a big plate. When he comes back he
says, "You ain't from around here then?"

I explain I'm the new football coach up in Tuscaloosa at the University and
I'm here to find whatever that boy's name was,

and he says, "Yeah I've heard of him, he's supposed to be pretty good." And
he gives me directions to the school so I can meet him and his coach.

As I'm paying up to leave, I remember my manners and leave a tip, not too
big to be flashy, but a good one, and he told me lunch was on him, but I
told him for a lunch that good, I felt I should pay. The big man asked me
if I had a photograph or something he could hang up to show I'd been there.
I was so new that I didn't have any yet. It really wasn't that big a thing
back then to be asked for, but I took a napkin and wrote his name and
address on it and told him I'd get him one.

I met the kid I was looking for later that afternoon and I don't remember
his name, but do remember I didn't think much of him when I met him.

I had wasted a day, or so I thought. When I got back to Tuscaloosa late that
night, I took that napkin from my shirt pocket and put it under my keys so I
wouldn't forget it. Back then I was excited that anybody would want a
picture of me. The next day we found a picture and I wrote on it,

"Thanks for the best lunch I've ever had."

Now let's go a whole buncha years down the road. Now we have black players
at Alabama and I'm back down in that part of the country scouting an
offensive lineman we sure needed. Y'all remember, (and I forget the name,
but it's not important to the story), well anyway, he's got two friends
going to Auburn and he tells me he's got his heart set on Auburn too, so I
leave empty handed and go on to see some others while I'm down there.

Two days later, I'm in my office in Tuscaloosa and the phone rings and it's
this kid who just turned me down, and he says,
"Coach, do you still want me at Alabama ?"

And I said, "Yes I sure do." And he says OK, he'll come.

And I say, "Well son, what changed your mind?"

And he said, "When my grandpa found out that I had a chance to play for you
and said no, he pitched a fit and told me I wasn't going nowhere but 
and wasn't playing for nobody but you. He thinks a lot of you and has ever
since y'all met."

Well, I didn't know his granddad from Adam's housecat so I asked him who his
granddaddy was and he said,
"You probably don't remember him, but you ate in his restaurant your first
year at Alabama and you sent him a picture that he's had hung in that place
ever since. That picture's his pride and joy and he still tells everybody
about the day that Bear Bryant came in and had chitlins with him..."

"My grandpa said that when you left there, he never expected you to remember
him or to send him that picture, but you kept your word to him and to
Grandpa, that's everything. He said you could teach me more than football
and I had to play for a man like you, so I guess I'm going to."

I was floored. But I learned that the lessons my mama taught me were always 

It don't cost nuthin' to be nice.

It don't cost nuthin� to do the right thing most of the time, and it costs a
lot to lose your good name by breaking your word to someone.

When I went back to sign that boy, I looked up his Grandpa and he's still
running that place, but it looks a lot better now.
And he didn't have chitlins that day, but he had some ribs that would make
Dreamland proud.
I made sure I posed for a lot of pictures; and don't think I didn't leave
some new ones for him, too, along with a signed football.

I made it clear to all my assistants to keep this story and these lessons in
mind when they're out on the road.
If you remember anything else from me, remember this. It really doesn't cost
anything to be nice, and the rewards can be unimaginable.

Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant

"I expect to pass through the world but once. Any good therefore that I can
do, or any kindness I can show to any creature,
let me do it now. Let me not defer it, for I shall not pas
s this way again�


Editor's Note : Coach Bryant was in the presence of those few gentlemen for
only minutes, and he defined himself for life.
Regardless of our profession, we do define ourselves by how we treat others,
and how we behave in the presence of others, and most of the time, we have
only minutes or seconds to leave a lasting impression. We can be rude,
crude, arrogant, cantankerous, or we can be nice.
Nice is always a better choice.

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