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Bear Bryant advised players to write home
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To chek out Bear Bryant's commercial spot, visit


College football coaches often find themselves being pitchmen for everything from soft drinks to pickup trucks.

The late Paul “Bear” Bryant’s weekly highlights show was sponsored by Coca-Cola and Golden Flake potato chips, as well as a bank that doesn’t exist anymore. Bryant would take a swig out of a 10-ounce Coke bottle and grab a few potato chips during the show. I don’t know if it sold many Cokes or chips, but the Bear’s deep voice uttered a clear-cut endorsement of the popular products.

There is a video clip on YouTube from the first show of the 1978 season.

“I want to thank our sponsors for having us back this year,” Bryant told co-host Charlie Thornton.

Like they wouldn’t sponsor one of the most beloved and recognized figures in college football, right.

There is also a video of Bryant as the spokesman for Ford trucks. It’s pretty clear they had to speed up Bryant’s slow, deliberate voice to squeeze it in 30 seconds.

My favorite Bryant commercial is for South Central Bell, back in the days when phone companies had the name “Bell.” I miss that.

“One of the first things we tell our players is to stay in touch with their families,” Bryant said. “When our freshmen first arrive, we ask them to write a postcard home ... right then.”

I doubt today if you went through the entire office supply closet at the University of Alabama athletic department, you would find a single postcard today, but this was 30 or more years ago.

Bryant went on to say there was always an opportunity to pickup the phone and call home.

Then, the coach looks at the camera and closes by saying, “Have you called your mama today? I sure wish I could call mine.”

At the very least, I hope you will or have already taken an opportunity to call your mama on Mother’s Day.

It has been 17 years since I celebrated the last Mother’s Day with my mama. By Labor Day, we found out she had cancer. Two weeks before Christmas, she was dead.

I miss her and it gripes my soul when I hear people griping about having to spend time with their parents. What really gets me is when folks end up in therapy or on some kind of anti-depressant because they left things incomplete with one of their parents and suddenly, they were dead.

I’m not saying therapy is bad; I’m just saying we create our own mess when it comes to family. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes.

There are others who get all worked up about what to give their mama as a Mother’s Day gift.

As a parent with grown children, I now understand what my mama meant when she said she just wanted her children around her. Folks it is presence, not presents, they want.

Go see her, if you can. Hug her neck and tell her once again how much you love her. That’s what mamas want. If you can’t, then call her. Don’t send an email, not even one with pictures of pretty flowers. That’s just wrong.

Call your mama, I sure wish I could call mine.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on

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