Lee Roy Jordan set the standard for Crimson Tide

first_imgLee Roy Jordan played for one of the greatest coaches in college football history.And when he watches his alma mater play football on Saturdays, he can see a lot of similarities between Paul “Bear” Bryant and current Alabama coach Nick Saban.“They’re similar in their message and their coaching abilities,” Jordan said. “Both of them are extremely dedicated, hard-working people in the coaching field and they demand that from their assistants as well as their players. The young adults they’re coaching give back to the community with integrity, honesty and hard work, all those things you need to be successful whether you’re in football or simply in business.“Coach Bryant always said I’m not teaching you the game of football, I’m teaching you the game of life. If you use these things, no matter what field you go into, you’ll be successful.”Success followed Jordan, now 73, wherever he went.As the featured speaker of the Montgomery Quarterback Club earlier this year, he kept the audience entertained with stories from his gridiron days under three legendary coaches” W.C. Majors at Excel High, Paul “Bear” Bryant at Alabama and Tom Landry with the Dallas Cowboys.Jordan detailed his early days on the farm with his father and at school under Majors as preparation for the success that would follow once Alabama coaches discovered him at the rural school in southwest Alabama.“They were scouting someone else and we happened to be the opposing team,” Jordan said. “They were scouting a team in Brewton, W.S. Neal. There was a good player over there. I was just a junior and had a little better game than he did so the (Alabama assistant) coach, Jerry Claiborne, came over to our locker room after the game and introduced himself to my high school coach, W.C. Majors, and the team.“He said he’d be back the next year to watch all of our games and they were there – coach (Gene) Stallings and coach Bobby Drake Keith were coming down to watch us play.”Jordan was part of Bryant’s second recruiting class and participated in practice in 1959, but was not eligible to play. The head coach, famous for his intense workouts at Junction, Texas, while coaching Texas A&M, wasn’t much easier in Tuscaloosa, Jordan said.“It was tough work,” he said. “Coach Bryant, when he got here, had a lot of guys that were willing to work hard, as he wanted them to. It was kind of like ‘Junction Boys’ all over again in Tuscaloosa, except we were right there behind the workout room. We got dressed and went right out to the field. We had a chain-link fence about 10 feet tall. They locked the gate and he worked us until he found out which ones wanted to play and which ones would be willing to put out 110 percent every play.”He went on to earn MVP honors in two of the three bowls he participated in, making an astounding 31 tackles in his final game in the 1963 Orange Bowl, a 17-0 win over Oklahoma. He was drafted sixth by both the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL and the Boston Patriots in the AFL, but chose the Cowboys because “I couldn’t see an Excel, Alabama boy living in Boston. … I thought I would freeze to death if I went to Boston.”He received a $5,000 bonus and a new car for signing a three-year contract in 1963 with the Cowboys, receiving $17,500 his first year, $18,500 his second and $19,500 his third. The car, as he loves to tell the story, was on its way from Dallas to Tuscaloosa, delivered by Cowboys vice president of player personnel Gil Brandt, when Brandt struck a cow in Mississippi, wrecking the car.He played with the Cowboys during an era that defined them as “America’s Team,” making the playoffs in 11 of his 14 seasons and earning three trips to the Super Bowl. They fell just short of another trip in 1967 when they lost to the Packers in the famous “Ice Bowl” playing on a field Jordan called “a skating rink in the second half. They were lucky enough that they had tennis shoes but we didn’t count on anything like a frozen field, so all we had were plastic or steel cleats.”Like Bryant, Jordan speaks fondly of Landry, calling him “one of the smartest men I’ve ever known. He knew every position on every defense, on every offense. He knew what everybody was doing on every play. He was the most organized person I’ve ever met. He wasn’t as emotional or motivating as coach Bryant was. If he had been, we’d have won maybe 10 Super Bowls. But he was a great teacher.”Years after his retirement, he still ranks as the second leading tackler in Cowboys history despite being an undersized linebacker at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds. The College Hall of Famer became the seventh member of the Cowboys Ring of Honor and the first installed under new president Jerry Jones, who Jordan said “doesn’t know anything about football players but knows how to make money.”After his retirement from football, Jordan became a very successful businessman with his purchase of a lumber company, which he still operates in the Dallas area.“I had retired and was working in the offseason in the real estate business in sales,” he said. “I figured out I wasn’t that good of a salesman so I decided to go out and look for a business I could run and own. I tried to buy an automobile dealership and that didn’t work and the banker who was working with me told me I’ve got a guy that’s got 12-15 lumber companies, would you like to meet him? We met one day for lunch and when it was over, we had become tremendous friends. Within two months, I owned two lumber companies, one in Dallas and one in Houston and he was my mentor in the lumber business for the rest of his life.”Those lessons of life he learned from Bryant still hold true years later, he said.“I learned the business and I put the rules to work that coach Bryant taught us about hard work and being loyal to your employees and treating your customers fair and right,” he said. “I found those rules work in business no matter what you’re in.”Today, he spends time between houses he owns in the Dallas area and at Point Clear on the Alabama coast, speaking to groups on a variety of topics, but two that come up frequently in discussions on the NFL and college football: concussions and the College Football Playoff.Jordan, who was part of the suit filed by former players against the league over concussions, is thankful for the safety changes in the sport.“I think it’s great that we’re paying attention to concussions,” he said. “I’m so proud that even with our youngest players they are starting to treat high injuries like it should be treated. It took a lawsuit for the world to be conscious of this but I don’t feel bad that I’m a part of the lawsuit. In fact, I’m proud that we brought it to people’s attention. The NFL has covered that up for quite some time. And it’s similar with domestic violence.”As far as the College Football Playoff, he’s a big fan despite the criticism that has often been delivered toward the selection committee.“I’m so glad it’s here,” he said. “And people like to talk about how we ought to have 16 teams, but no, I don’t see any reason to make players play that much longer. If we do anything to make it larger, it shouldn’t be more than six. That’s my opinion. If you can’t pick the top six teams in the country with a group that knows football, you’re not going to pick the champion anyway.”Play VideoPlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration Time 0:00Loaded: 0%0:00Progress: 0%0:00 Progress: 0%Stream TypeLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1ChaptersChaptersdescriptions off, selectedDescriptionssubtitles off, selectedSubtitlescaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedCaptionsAudio TrackFullscreenThis is a modal window. The Video Cloud video was not found. Error Code: VIDEO_CLOUD_ERR_VIDEO_NOT_FOUND Session ID: 2020-09-17:767ce75672dab779c180e684 Player ID: videojs-brightcove-player-365082-3869415389001 OK Close Modal DialogCaption Settings DialogBeginning of dialog window. 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