The CR Interview

Lee Roy Jordan

One of Alabama’s most ferocious defenders discusses Bryant’s influence,
the stingy 1961 defense, and what drove him
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Painting by David Boyd, Jr..

For as long as football is played in Tuscaloosa, Lee Roy Jordan will be remembered among the very best every to wear the uniform—a ferocious competitor who went full speed on every snap. Recruited out of tiny Excel, Ala., as part of Paul “Bear“ Bryant’s second class, Jordan became a two-time All-American, playing linebacker and center for the teams that returned Alabama to national prominence. Considered by many the greatest linebacker in school history, Jordan led two of Bama’s stingiest defenses: the 1961 Crimson Tide, which allowed just 25 points en route to the national championship, and the 1962 unit, which surrendered just 39 points and fell one point shy of a second straight perfect season. Later, Jordan played a significant role in the rise of Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys, earning five trips to the Pro Bowl before finding success in the timber business. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.

 

CR: When did you first realize you had a talent to play the game?

Jordan: Probably my junior year in high school. Once Coach Bryant and his staff started scouting me…they saw me play my junior year, and I had a pretty good game and in fact they were scouting a player on the opposing team and they came over after the game and made it clear that they would be back to watch us the rest of the year. Then my senior year came along and they were there for all those games. They made it clear they thought I could play at Alabama, and when Coach Bryant told me something, I certainly believed it.

CR: What do you remember about your first meeting with Coach Bryant?

Jordan: I probably didn’t say more than 10 words and probably most of that was, “Yes, sir.“ Met in his office. He was a big man, an imposing guy. And he had a desk that sat on a platform and he had the lowest couch in the world where everybody else sat. And he looked down over that desk at you. But he was just a pleasant guy and just talked about my family and what he would expect of me if I came to Alabama and what he thought my contribution could be to the team.

 

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