By: Dave Illingworth
Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar told a story about Bear Bryant and his quarterback, Roddy Osborne, at a football game between Alabama and Auburn that had a very dramatic ending. Listening to the story, I was confused—I have followed college football all my life and was sure I would remember such a game and ending.
Later, I was in Nashville calling on a Toyota dealer who had a painting of Bear Bryant on his office wall. I asked the dealer about the story. He said he didn’t remember the game either, but he did say that he knew Roddy Osborne—he was the quarterback of his high school football team, and he went to Texas A&M, not Alabama.
I called the Texas A&M PR office and asked them about the game, but no one could remember the game and recommended I call Gene Stallings who played for Bear Bryant. At the time, Gene Stallings was an assistant coach for the Dallas Cowboys. He said he remembered the game, and this is the story he told me:
It was 1957 game between Texas A&M and Arkansas at Fayetteville. Texas A&M was undefeated at the time. It was at the end of the fourth quarter, and the score was Texas A&M seven, Arkansas six. Texas A&M had the ball at mid-field with only a few minutes left in the game when the quarterback, Charlie Milstead, got injured and had to leave the game. With less than a minute left in the game, Bear Bryant grabbed his back-up quarterback, Roddy Osborne, by the shoulder pads and told him under no circumstances was he to throw the football. He told him to run out of the pocket and slide down to run out the clock.
On the first play, Osborne did just that and ran all the way down to the 20 of Arkansas. With time running out, Roddy Osborne sprinted out of the pocket and saw the Texas A&M receiver waving at him, wide open in the end zone. Roddy Osborne did what he was told not to do and threw the ball.
The Arkansas defender came out of nowhere, intercepted the ball, and started streaking down the sideline. Roddy Osborne took out after him. As time ran out, Osborne took off running after Arkansas defensive back and caught him; at about the five-yard line he tackled him, saving a touchdown and the win for Texas A&M.
After the game, reporters gathered around Bear Bryant in the locker room and asked him, “How was it possible for Roddy Osborne, one of the slowest players on the field, to catch the Arkansas player, one of the fastest players on the field, from behind and tackle him?”
Bear Bryant replied, “Gentlemen, it’s all about motivation. The young man for Arkansas was running for his team, his school, and to win the game. But Roddy Osborne was running for his life.”
Hebrews 12:1 “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”