Crimson Tide ref shares memories
by Daniel Gaddy
Aug 12, 2012 | 1491 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Eddie Conyers, a longtime practice referee for the Alabama Crimson Tide, recently spoke to the Rotary Club of Jasper. Photo by: Jack McNeely
Eddie Conyers, a longtime practice referee for the Alabama Crimson Tide, recently spoke to the Rotary Club of Jasper. Photo by: Jack McNeely
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The Rotary Club of Jasper recently heard from longtime Alabama Crimson Tide practice referee Eddie Conyers, who spoke about his 50-season career and working under Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Conyers said he believes Bryant’s gift as a coach was his ability to make normal people accomplish extraordinary things.

“Your comfort level was his starting point,” he said.

Conyers talked about Bryant yelling at a player during a defensive drill.

“He grabbed him and he questioned his parents, his heritage and his intestinal fortitude and believe me not in those words,” he said.

Conyers said the athlete started sobbing, and Bryant then hugged the player and whispered, “Son, I know you can do this.”

The player then split a double-team block and made a tackle at the line of scrimmage.

Conyers said Bryant then told the player that he expected that level of performance every time.

Conyers also told about a game in which the Crimson Tide played the University of Nebraska. As the Nebraska players took the field, Conyers noticed every one was about 6 feet 8 inches tall and 287 pounds.

“Their cheerleaders were six-eight and 287 pounds,” Conyers joked.

He said the heaviest player Alabama had at that time weighed 205 pounds.

After looking at the Nebraska players, he feared it would be a brutal game. And it was, he said, Alabama mercilessly beat Nebraska.

That win was possible, Conyers said, because of Bryant’s gift to make athletes achieve more than they ever thought possible.

“He had an ability to tap internal resources,” he said. “We all have so much more to us than we use.”

Conyers began officiating the Crimson Tide’s football practices in the early 1960s, and has now spent more than 50 seasons as a practice referee.