BEAR REACTIONS (CONT.)
Frank Deford's article on Coach Paul (Bear) Bryant is excellent ("I Do. Love the Football," Nov. 23). As a native Tennessean now living in the North, I have always been fascinated by the extraordinary importance of college football in the South. It is a phenomenon that many Yankees just don't understand.
Deford's description of the phenomenon—from the fashion-magazine outfits worn to the game to the top-rated coach's show on TV—and the sociohistorical reasons for it should help even the most uncomprehending outsider see more clearly what is at stake on Saturday afternoons in Tuscaloosa. It is the Civil War refought, the military heritage relived, the Southern general returned to life, the Southern woman returned to her pedestal (grandstand) and the Southern identity reasserted. True, some black men have now gotten into the battle, but history never repeats itself in exactly the same way.
The Bear's larger-than-life reputation obviously says more about the admirers than the man. Deford's explanation of what the myth means is as valuable as a shelf of books on "the mind of the South" for anyone who wants to understand the relationship between Southern football and Southern culture. And he discussed the myth without losing sight of the man.
A Bearologist myself, I thank you for the article on Coach Bryant. However, not only is Alabama one of the winningest teams in college football today, but it would also receive the "best mannered" award if such an award existed. There's no showboating on a Bryant-coached team. Nor will you see an Alabama player argue with an official or question a call, fight or taunt opposing players, or take part in any activity that would direct attention to the individual rather than the team. If one word could sum up the qualities of Coach Bryant, it would be "class."
STEVEN F. PERRY
I greatly enjoyed your article on The Bear, but I hate to see you refer to him as old. Down here, we're hoping he'll live forever.
Pity us poor Alabamians. It seems as though every time we start to think that maybe we're as good as almost anyone, along comes some kindly intellectual such as Frank Deford to put us in our places by gently reminding us that we are backward, bigoted, nose-picking morons.
What a startling revelation it was for this dim-witted fan to learn, via The Word of Deford, that the real reason I've been worshiping Bear Bryant and Alabama football all these years is because the South lost the Civil War and Bear is our "triumph, at last"...our "justification." Wow! Heavy stuff.
How the author managed to jumble so much sociological horse hockey into an otherwise mediocre piece about The Grand Old Bear is, well, naturally, beyond my comprehension. But, say, you don't suppose ol' Frank is still a bit light-headed from those 25 beer-commercial takes (LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER, Nov. 23), do you?
The article was tasteless and biased. The campus in Tuscaloosa is beautiful. Frank Deford must have had his eyes closed when he drove down University Boulevard and passed the buildings that surround the Main Quad. Coach Bryant relieves himself just as everyone else does, but journalistic discretion should have ruled out the vivid urological description. And why, why did Deford have to rekindle memories of the early 1960s? Is nothing sacred?
A man has broken a football victory record at Birmingham's Legion Field with thousands of people attending and having a good time. The Crimson Tide gave a tremendous performance, the Million Dollar Band played superbly and the cheerleaders provided spirit leadership. Why? Because people in Alabama love football and Paul Bryant is football. Please let Alabamians and football fans everywhere enjoy the moment without snipes and barbs. The only positive thing about your treatment was Coach Bryant's portrait on the cover.
GUY R. SWANSON