Bear Bryant

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Bear Bryant in 1955
Bear Bryant in 1945

Paul William "Bear" Bryant (September 11, 1913January 26, 1983) was an American college football coach who was named National Coach of the Year three times; in 1961, 1971 and 1973. The national coach of the year award was subsequently named the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award in his honor. He was best known as the head coach of the University of Alabama football team. During his 25-year tenure as Alabama's head coach, he amassed six national championships and thirteen conference championships. Upon his retirement in 1982, he held the record for the most wins (323) as a head coach in collegiate football history. Bryant was the Head Coach of Sports Illustrated's NCAA Football All-Century Team. In February 1983, Bryant was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


  • Recruiting is the one thing I hate. I won't do it unless my coaches tell me I've just got to. The whole process is kind of undignified for me and the young man.
  • I don't guess anybody would think much of what Joe did nowadays, including myself. But he was supposed to be a leader, so he had to live by the rules. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, and it was to the greatest athlete I ever coached.
    • Phillips, B.J. (Sep. 29, 1980). "Football's Supercoach". Time: 6. Retrieved on 2008-12-11.
    • Speaking about Joe Namath, the star quarterback, being benched for an infraction before the 1963 final regular-season game against Miami and the Sugar Bowl.

Quotes attributed to Bryant


Quotes about Bryant

  • And he [Bryant] was a smart enough man to know that all kinds of great football players from Alabama, some of whom just happened to be black and were not able to play for him because of the prevailing prejudice, in many cases young men who were on their way to the pros, and he knew as well that he had the law of the nation on his side now if he wanted to play them, and that only local prejudice kept him from recruiting them, and most important of all, he was the one man in all of Alabama who could go ahead and recruit them, and stand up to George Wallace, and bring the culture along with him. And for 13 years, when he could have made a great difference, he did very little and did not really dissent from the biases of the region.
    • Comment by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Halberstam about Bryant's participation in racial segregation while coaching University of Alabama's football team. Halberstam, David (2007). Just a coach, not a leader. Retrieved on 2008-12-11.
  • there ain't no difference between politics and football. Bear Bryant had a quota of five blacks on his team. In NFL, until 15 or 20 years ago, everyone said a black couldn't be quarterback. Now if he can win, he can be the quarterback. It's not an issue any more.
  • In many ways, American sports embody the best in our national character -- dedication, teamwork, honor and friendship. Paul "Bear" Bryant embodied football. The winner of more games than any other coach in history, Bear Bryant was a true American hero. A hard but beloved taskmaster he pushed ordinary people to perform extraordinary feats. Patriotic to the core, devoted to his players and inspired by a winning spirit that never quit, Bear Bryant gave his country the gift of a legend. In making the impossible seem easy, he lived what we all strive to be. February 23, 1983
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