By Ken Roberts
In tiny Moro Bottom, Arkansas, Paul William Bryant was born 105 years ago this Tuesday.
Most Alabama fans probably know his life story: He earned his nickname by wrestling a bear, he played a game against Tennessee with a broken leg, he won 323 games and six national championships as a head coach, he launched the careers of future NFL legends Joe Namath and Ken Stabler and he left a lasting legacy on the college football world when he died in 1983.
But here are a few bits of trivia fans may not know about the man they called “The Bear:”
• The nickname of Bryant’s high school football team in Fordyce, Arkansas, was the Redbugs.
• Ebay currently lists 1,825 “Bear” Bryant items for sale, including photos, paintings, cups, coins and one “Bear Bryant for President” vinyl record listed for $34.99.
• In Tuscaloosa, these things are named for Bryant: Paul W. Bryant Drive, the Paul W. Bryant Museum, the Bryant Bridge, Paul Bryant High School, Paul Bryant Hall on the UA campus and Bryant-Denny Stadium.
• After playing in the 1935 Rose Bowl in California, Bryant had a screen test with Paramount Studios. He was offered a contract, but his wife nixed the idea of his becoming an actor.
• Bryant’s mother wanted him to be a preacher. Bryant wanted to be a football coach. “I told her that coaching and preaching were a lot alike, but I don’t think she believed me,” Bryant said.
• Bryant was famous for wearing a houndstooth hat during games but there was one place he wouldn’t wear it: the Superdome in New Orleans. He was quoted as saying his mother told him never to wear a hat indoors.
• Bryant enlisted in the U.S. Navy on Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the bombing at Pearl Harbor.
• Bryant’s first UA team was invited to the 1958 Bluegrass Bowl, but declined the invitation. That would be the only Bryant-coached UA team that didn’t go to a bowl game.
• Bryant earned 1.5 votes for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968 at party’s convention held in Chicago, losing out to Hubert Humphrey.
• Gary Busey played Bryant in a 1984 movie about Bryant’s life, “The Bear.” Other actors who portrayed Bryant include Oscar winner Jon Voight in 2015’s “Woodlawn,” Tom Berenger in the 2002 TV movie “The Junction Boys” and Sonny Shroyer in 1994’s “Forrest Gump.”
• Bryant was featured on a U.S. postage stamp in 1997.
• Bryant ad-libbed a famous line in a popular South Central Bell Telephone Co. commercial. After Bryant read the line, “Have you called your mama today” from the script, he added “I sure wish I could call mine.” YouTube’s video of the commercial has been viewed nearly 300,000 times.
• Other well-known people who were also born on Sept. 11 include short story writer O. Henry, singer Harry Connick Jr., rapper Ludacris, director Brian DePalma, entertainer Lola Falana and NFL coach Tom Landry.
• Bryant’s zodiac sign was Virgo. According to www.astrology.com, Virgos are known for being picky and critical, with keen appreciation for the smallest detail. Virgos are also industrious, methodical and efficient. Virgos are born to serve and the act of serving others gives them great joy,
• According to the American Kennel Club, “Bear” was the seventh most popular male dog name in 2016.