Football Coach Gene Stallings tells a wonderful story about his time spent as an assistant coach for the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant. Most of you college football fans will remember that Bryant had a tower built where he would stand and watch his Alabama Crimson Tide practice. The old saying was that you never wanted to see him come down from that tower during practice, because somebody was going to be dismissed. Well, on this particular day, it was the very first day of freshman football practice. Stallings said there were about thirty wide-eyed kids with the coaches standing in the end zone, waiting for the Bear. Bryant walked out and welcomed the guys to Alabama. I can hear Stallings now, trying to imitate Bryant’s guttural voice. Bear said, “I want to welcome all you boys toAlabama. We’re gonna teach you how to block and tackle and play Alabama football. Now, to get started, old Bear has placed five footballs down in the other end zone. Why don’t you boys run on down there and bring old Bear back one of them footballs.” Well, Stallings smiled and said. “You should have seen these guys take off down the field. Thirty boys trying to impress the Bear and only five footballs were to be had.”
The year was 1959, and Lee Roy Jordan was one of those boys. Lee Roy was tougher than a two-dollar steak and had been recruited by Auburn and Alabama, but Auburn withdrew their offer soon afterward. Alabama liked his toughness, so Jordan signed with the Crimson Tide. On this particular day, “Lee Roy Jordan brought back three of the five footballs” said Stallings. Needless to say, the Bear was impressed and calmly said to Gene, “Hey, Coach Stallings, I don’t think this young man will have to practice very much.”
During the three years Lee Roy played (1960-1962),Alabama lost only two games, posting a 29-2-2 record. The Tide defense gave up 25 points in 1961 and 39 points in 1962. The 1961 team went undefeated and won the National Championship, with Lee Roy Jordan at linebacker. “He was one of the finest players I have ever coached,” said Bear.
Lee Roy Jordan attained All-American status in 1963 and was the MVP of that year’s Orange Bowl. In 1963,Jordan was drafted with the sixth pick in the first round, by the Dallas Cowboys. From 1963-1976,Jordan was a member of the “Doomsday Defense.” His teammates nicknamed him “Killer” and made him captain of the Cowboys’ defense. Jordan recorded 1,236 career tackles in 154 starts. His Cowboy teams won five conference championships, eight divisional championships, and one Super Bowl. Jordan was the seventh Cowboy to be inducted into the Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor in 1989.
On November 4, 1973,Jordan intercepted Kenny Anderson of the Cincinnati Bengals, three times in five minutes, and returned one for a 31-yard touchdown. He was some kind of player.