Within two hours they had the lie detector set up. An expert, in uniform, and an ex- FBI man, who lectured at the Keeler Polygraph Institute in Chicago, were there to give it to me. Everybody was trying to get to me, reporters and TV people were waiting, and we were holding off so I could take the lie test. Well, it didn't bother me 2� worth, the test itself. But when they put me in that chair with all those straps it was like getting into an electric chair. They started the questions: "You from Fordyce, Ark.?" Well, it's supposed to be my home town, but it's not, really. "You play football at Fordyce High School?" Yessir. "You bet on the Georgia Tech game?" No sir. "Your wife named Mary Harmon Bryant?" Yessir. "You have two children, one named Paul Jr., one named Mae Martin?" Yessir. "Did you bet on the Georgia game?" No sir. And so on, dropping them in like that.
I took a series of four tests, and it wasn't until we were through and they'd gone off to check the results that it hit me. I'd read somewhere about these things not being absolutely foolproof, and I thought to myself, suppose those sons of guns come back up here and say I've been lying? I started trying to determine who'd believe me anyway, and I knew Dr. Rose would, and those men on the board, but who else? I was sweating. Well, you got to have a plan for everything, and I had made up my mind what I was going to do. I was going to bow my head and go back to my players. I had already read them the story in confidence, and they were as mad as I was.
The polygraph men came back to the room and walked straight over to where I was sitting, and one said, "You didn't quiver. That line didn't jump a fraction." Well, you can imagine the load it took off me. That period of doubt only lasted about 15 minutes, but it seemed forever. I know I'll never take another one of those tests about anything, because it didn't dawn on me until I'd been in that harness an hour and a half what could have happened.
By then I was getting so keyed up I was having trouble being coherent as the 4 o'clock TV deadline approached. The press was invited, and you talk about gut checks—this was one. We were going to have the biggest audience in the history of the state, no doubt about that. I had a speech prepared, and it was checked by my attorneys so I wouldn't say anything I could be sued for, being so mad and all. Dr. Rose was standing there with a towel, wiping my head, I was sweating so bad, and I apologized for being so much trouble.
Two minutes before we went on they brought in the speech rolled up to put on that TelePrompTer thing for me to read. Dr. Rose's voice, not him in person, came on the air. He made the introduction, and then I started trying to read this thing, and I couldn't. I was half crying, and then I just quit trying to read and I went after them. I challenged everybody. I went for 30 minutes, and I don't know what all I said, but I get keyed up just thinking about it. We announced we were suing them for $10 million, and when it was over they all clustered around handing me Cokes, and everybody was relieved. But the suffering hadn't started.
Oh, my, the nightmares. Waking up in the middle of the night, wringing wet with sweat and lying there unable to sleep or to think about anything else. A many a night, a many a night, getting out of bed and sitting in a chair for hours, worrying. Not worrying about the outcome, because I sure as hell knew I didn't fix any game, but just frustrated and mad and worried over what it was doing to my folks.
I'd worked so hard to discipline myself, trying to keep my mind off the case when I was working or studying or doing something, and trying not to mention it around the house because of what it was doing to Mary Harmon. You mention it now, even now, and it upsets her.
So much happened along in there to make her frightened. Between the first Post story and the second, one week when we were away, somebody broke into our home, hacked a hole in the back door with an ax or something and went through everything we owned, trying to find something. I'd like to know what. Every piece of clothing, shoes, shirts. Whole drawers of things dumped out on the floor. Pulled things away from the walls, emptied out desk drawers, just systematically ransacked everything. Took the closet where we kept our silver and emptied that out and left the silver. Passed up jewelry, money, anything of value. Only things they took were a couple of Paul Jr.'s sweaters, a red jacket and socks. They were looking for something, all right, and I darn sure wish I had been there to help them. Later we had good reason to believe our phones were tapped, and the FBI took care of that, but imagine the feeling that gives you.
In the months that followed we had to put on three or four extra secretaries to handle the mail. Must have been a jillion pieces. Some of the letters were nasty. I didn't even look at them, but 99 out of 100 were backing us, so many of them from government officials and clergymen and officials of one kind or another. Richmond Flowers, the attorney general of Alabama, conducted his own investigation, got some football coaches—not mine—to look at films of our games and came out with a real strong statement supporting me. His son, Richmond Jr., is on the Tennessee squad this year—a real fine boy—and I tell folks he's entirely too good to play for anybody but me. Anyway, the McClellan Committee came in for about 12 weeks investigating for the U.S. Senate. And so did the Internal Revenue Service. I didn't care. They could have called in Perry Mason if they wanted to, and it wouldn't have bothered me. The Alabama state legislature made its own investigation and had Dr. Rose and me and some of my boys in for questioning, and there were resolutions passed backing me. You better believe you find out who your friends are at a time like that. A year later some of those legislators were responsible for passing a resolution that allowed the university to name the athletic dormitory—Paul W. Bryant Hall—after a living man.
Well, the story was so wrong, so filled with errors, it's ridiculous to try to go over the whole thing, but let's just consider a few major points. There's no doubt, first of all, that Wally Butts and I had a telephone conversation. They got the time and probably the day wrong, because I was supposed to have left the field to answer the phone, and my kids will tell you the only time I've ever done that was when there was a death in the family.