Former Tide Linebacker E.J. Junior Discusses Playing for Alabama, Bear Bryant [Audio]
Each Thursday on "The Game," Ryan Fowler speaks to a former Tide legend to remind us what it was like playing or coaching for the Crimson Tide back in their day. On this occasion, he spoke with E.J. Junior, former Alabama and NFL linebacker, and to talk about what it was like to play under the tutelage of Paul "Bear" Bryant.
One thing that was evident of Bear Bryant coached teams is that competition was prevalent throughout. In practices, each player would go up against another player who was better than themselves. Fowler asked Junior how that was like during his days in Tuscaloosa, and if that made gamedays easier.
"I think we practiced more physical in the week, by the time we got to the game, it was easy... I just saw Condredge Holloway at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame a couple weeks ago, and I said he was one of the hardest [people] to catch, and he said 'Yeah, that's because I was running away from you.' When you face guys who are on that caliber... you know you play against some great players."
Alabama's athletic history and tradition is unlike any other program in the country. The championships, the fan base, the prestigious coaches, and the pride that exists at the University of Alabama is difficult for many to really understand without being directly involved with the football program. Junior experienced this first hand as he played for Coach Bryant from 1977-1980, and he said that there's nothing else in the world quite like playing for Alabama, and his message to current and future players of all sports was clear.
"I would always say embrace the history... Remember whose shoulders you're standing on, what it took for those people to get you to where you are. When I remember the fields, the stadium, Bryant-Denny Stadium was only 59,000 seats. They didn't have the football complex, they didn't have the indoor bubble, they didn't have the new softball and baseball field. All that was built because of tradition."
You can listen to the entire conversation below, and remember to catch "The Game with Ryan Fowler" each weekday from 2-6 PM.