Ain't Nothin' But a Winner: Bear Bryant, The Goal Line Stand, and a Chance of a Lifetime

Ain't Nothin' But a Winner: Bear Bryant, The Goal Line Stand, and a Chance of a Lifetime

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Overview

No university has won more football championships than Alabama, and Barry Krauss played a key role in one of them. The linebacker’s fourth down stop of Penn State’s Mike Guman in the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 1979, was recently named by ESPN as one of the ten most important plays of the 20th century.
 
The Goal Line Stand, as the play became known, immortalized Krauss among legions of fans. More than twenty-five years later, people still tell him exactly what they were doing and how they felt when he collided in mid-air with Guman that New Year’s Day—and almost never mention his twelve-year career in the NFL.
 
In this entertaining and well-illustrated memoir, Krauss tells of scrimmaging on front lawns with friends as a kid in Pompano Beach, Florida, and of his childhood dream to play for Don Shula. He acknowledges how Coach Bear Bryant tamed his free spirit and shaped him into the football player—and the man—he became. And he emphasizes the importance of team, weaving together the personal stories of his Alabama teammates on the field during the Goal Line Stand, and acknowledges their significant roles in winning the game and the championship.
 
Ain’t Nothin’ But a Winner offers an insider’s look at how a team is built, tested, and becomes a national champion—and how that process sometimes calls upon an individual to rise to the challenge presented by his own personal gut check.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780817358648
Publisher: University of Alabama Press
Publication date: 09/15/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 152
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Barry Krauss was a key member of The University of Alabama’s 1978 National Championship Football Team. A first round draft choice in 1979, he played twelve years in the NFL with the Baltimore and Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins. Today Krauss is a professional broadcaster and motivational speaker based in Carmel, Indiana.
 
Joe M. Moore was a freshman member of the 1975 Crimson Tide football team, alongside Barry Krauss. He is the founder of Moore Management Group, which provides management consulting, marketing, and intellectual property development services to businesses. His work for the last decade has focused on television properties, ranging from series to specials to news segments. Moore lives in Mobile, Alabama.

Read an Excerpt

Ain't Nothin' But a Winner

Bear Bryant, the Goal Line Stand, and a Chance of a Lifetime


By Barry Krauss, Joe M. Moore

The University of Alabama Press

Copyright © 2006 Barry Krauss and Joe M. Moore
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8173-9073-0



CHAPTER 1

Chance of a Lifetime — It's All about Dreams


The world of sports in America is America.

For many like me, sports are all-encompassing. The love of competition is absorbed through our pores and soaked into our very being almost from birth. It courses through our veins and pours out our sweat glands. It is our being. And, to a select and lucky few, it forges us into people who can be involved in something fantastic, supernatural, and almost surreal — a great play that lives on throughout time, not just changing the outcome of a game but affecting the lives of participants and fans for years and decades to come.

There is a true irony here: the play is over in an instant, yet it lives on forever. We never lose our memory of it, and we can never walk away from its impact on our lives. And for those of us who are lucky enough to have ever been involved in one of those plays, we instantly know that we have experienced a "chance of a lifetime."

These things don't just happen as a natural occurrence in the universe.

Every "chance of a lifetime" starts with the dream — maybe one from early childhood — which even the dreamer is perhaps too bashful to admit. Then it turns into hard work, more dreaming, building a future, working even harder, and finally — if everything goes perfectly — the realization of that one chance to fulfill "the dream."

My dream as a third grader growing up in Pompano Beach, Florida, was to play for Don Shula and the Miami Dolphins. You know, the "Big Guy Upstairs" has a great sense of humor when giving us dreams. Sometimes our dreams are realized, sometimes not, but most of the time just striving to fulfill those dreams makes us better people. Great sense of humor, and He knows what He's doing. More about that dream and one of its true believers, my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Sayer, later.

Anyway, success is always elusive. On every athletic field and court, whenever there is a "chance of a lifetime," the outcome can fall either way. Each team has to reach out and grab it, squeeze it — hold it like the children we love so much today — for at that time in our life this "chance of a lifetime" is our life.

It would be pretentious to believe that my chance was any different, any more special, or had any more impact than anyone else's chance. They are all dramatic. They are all life-changing "significant emotional events."

It just so happens that my chance of a lifetime came about in football. Probably more important, it came about in the 1978 NCAA National Championship football game, Alabama vs. Penn State, in a Sugar Bowl game that was televised nationally on the afternoon of January 1, 1979. The whole world was watching.

Maybe equally important, I was on a team formed and forged by Paul W. "Bear" Bryant at the instant he won the fifth of his six national championships. He would win another the following year.

In true Bear Bryant form, he praised everyone but himself.

"As for me," he said, "and I'm sincere, I contribute so little that I take a lot of pride in being a part of something like this."

What a coach! What a man!

Coach Bryant knew the secret. In sports the chance of a lifetime seldom comes to those who are just talented, just well-coached, or just lucky. It comes — quite honestly — to those who are all of the above. And it only comes to a minuscule few of those.

When it does come — when you get that one chance of a lifetime to make your greatest of dreams come true — it changes everything.

And in the white-hot spotlight of sports in this nation — the impact is colossal.

It is this full understanding of how special, how rare, and how universally unique it is to capitalize on a chance of a lifetime, that my collaborator, Joe Moore, and I have created the Chance of a Lifetime book series, which tells the stories of athletes all over the world who realize their dreams, each through their own "chance of a lifetime."

This book will exhibit how my life evolved from that of a kid without much self-confidence to a young man molded and so inspired by Coach Bryant that I, we — the entire team — refused to give up. We will follow our team's ride, and my small part in it, to that historic moment in New Orleans.

This book also chronicles how my "chance of a lifetime" opened new doors for me personally and professionally in the NFL. It follows my career, my life, through its ups and downs toward today.

Perhaps most important, this book shows how the hard work, dedication, and focus of one man, Paul W. Bryant, shaped the lives of football players, men, students, fans, and the people of the state of Alabama for more than two generations.

CHAPTER 2

Pompano, Football, and Life in a Pink House


Life in Pompano Beach, Florida, would seem to be somewhat idyllic. Beautiful views, the beach, peaceful ... quiet.

Hardly. Not with Barry Krauss around.

Don't get me wrong; it wasn't just me. It was my entire group. Well, possibly it was me to a greater extent than my friends.

I can still remember approaching any number of friends' houses and seeing their mothers hurry to close their drapes when they saw me coming. I didn't take it personally. I just assumed that their front yard was closed for the day.

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that any lawn in Pompano was our potential football field. That could have been one of the problems. Most of the time it was the front yards — where there was really nice grass. When we were through with one lawn, it would have a completely worn-out middle, just like a real grass football field. Like a swarm of locusts, we would move on to another perfect lawn. And by the way, we used everything in the yard. Those exquisitely manicured shrubs, a perfect goal line. We dove over them to score. Over the top. Yea! Touchdown at any cost. And sprinkler heads, the ideal end-zone pylons — especially if they were up and sprinkling.

And all the havoc we created meant nothing to us. We were oblivious.

Eventually all the parents got wise, and we wound up either skateboarding or riding our bicycles to Kester Park, in Old Pompano, or just playing in the streets. Of course there was that pesky issue of cars. We were tough though. We would stop the game as they passed, but we'd let them know we didn't appreciate their interference. We'd smear our dirty hands down the side of the cars or yell something smart like, "Don't come back through here today!"

We were so tough.

Is it any wonder I was always running from someone? I had a mouth, a little talent, and was a little cocky. Sometimes the combination got me into trouble. Of course, being the only kid in the entire world to live in a pink house didn't help. Any of the bigger or older kids that wanted to make a statement would find me, the kid in the pink house, and beat me up. Looking back now, I realize that I never really got beat up — more like pushed around. But I was always in fear of being chased and caught. It seemed that someone was always running hard behind me. I sincerely believe that feeling is what shaped my personality, the personality that Coach Bryant immediately read and began to mold into a football player.

I loved football. I was so competitive that I didn't want to leave the field to get a drink — I would drink puddle water so I wouldn't miss anything. Sometimes, if I was around the house on Saturdays, my mom would put me to work. Make the bed. Vacuum the house. Clean the windows. Wash the cars. Cut the grass. It was endless.

Although I didn't know it at the time, Mom and Dad were teaching me some great habits and, as I learned much later, wonderful lessons. This was an area in which Dad excelled: he taught lessons by example, not by preaching at us. In fact, my dad always preferred showing leadership to talking leadership. Perhaps this was where I learned one of my most important lessons.

As a rambunctious eight-year-old, I was pretty rough on everything, particularly my bicycle. It was my lifeline, my instant travel machine, my ticket to neighborhood football games all across Pompano.

You must remember that those were much more innocent days than the ones we live in now. A child with a bicycle had almost limitless possibilities. There were no boundaries.

I used my bike ... really used it. However, I was not very prone to care for it as well as I should. One Saturday morning I built up my courage and approached Dad in his garage workshop. I rolled in my dilapidated bicycle — which was probably less than a year old.

"Look, Dad," I'm sure I started out convincingly. "This thing is really beat-up, and a lot of the kids have new bikes."

Dad looked around the garage as if to check on the new bike inventory. He glanced at his watch as a huge grin came over his face.

"OK," he said, "let's get you a new bike."

He went straight to his toolbox and began handing me tools and orders. "First take off the handlebars."

As an eight-year-old boy can sometimes rationalize, I figured, "Great, we're going to take this thing apart before we go to the store for the new one." Soon we had parts strewn throughout the garage. We were sanding pieces here and oiling parts there. All of a sudden it was kind of fun. And then it was afternoon.

After lunch we got into the car and drove to the hardware store. We walked right by the row of new bikes, only to stop at the spray paint display.

"What color do you want your new bike to be?" he asked.

All of a sudden, I thought I got it. We were going to just fix my bike. I was so disappointed.

Trying to be difficult, I told him I wanted it red ... metallic red, with racing stripes ... and numbers ... and other decorations. When we walked out we had all the paint we needed, I needed, to do the job.

Back at the garage we took great care in painting the frame and then painstakingly reassembled the bicycle. By the time that was done, the frame was dry enough to add the racing stripes. Just as Dad and I finished those, Mom called us in to dinner. It was almost dark.

The next day, the kids in the neighborhood were all enthralled by my "new," customized, bike. I accepted their compliments, never letting on that we had done it ourselves.

It was only years later that I realized exactly what had happened that day. Dad could have easily bought me a new bike and got on with whatever he was doing that morning, but instead he wanted to teach me, firsthand, the values of work and caring for my property. Much more important, he spent time with me. He was teaching me about fatherhood and the value of that relationship.

As a rambunctious eight-year-old, though, I didn't see it. At that age the lesson it reinforced was, "Once you get out of the house on Saturday, don't go back."

So, from that day on, once I was out of the house and had a game going, I never went back until I was on the edge of death.


A POWERFUL WILL TO WIN, OR A HORRIBLE TEMPER

As a child I was told repeatedly about how I must somehow overcome my temper. For me it was not a temper issue — it was an enormous will to win. With God as my witness today, I say there is a difference, and I know it. Still, that doesn't change my childhood.

Nothing ever hit me harder than one event in my sixth-grade year. A tradition at our elementary school demanded that the sixth graders play the faculty in a softball game toward the end of the school year. The faculty had watched me play all year: they knew my drive to win, as well as the resulting blowups when I did not. Prior to the game it was announced that, because of my temper, I would not be allowed to participate in that year's traditional game. What an embarrassment; in front of the whole school, I had to sit out of this game! I had never been so brokenhearted. Looking back, I'm sure I deserved it, but it still hurts.


FIRST "ORGANIZED" FOOTBALL

Little League Football on the South Pompano team was a hoot. I was such a wimp. I hated practice but loved the games. Wait, maybe not a wimp but a quarterback. Yeah, that's what I was. Now I remember, I was a quarterback/running back.

My days on offense were hard. Thankfully, they ended abruptly. While playing QB, I called a sweep right and forgot the play at the line of scrimmage. Yep, you're getting ahead of me. I, the quarterback, ran the wrong way. The whole backfield went right with the sweep and I went left. The cornerback, Clarence Jones, grabbed me and slung me to the ground, breaking my arm. I remember the pain — to this day, I remember it as some of the most horrendous I ever had in football. Of course, my coach checked it out and said I just pulled a muscle. I sat out the rest of the day and rode my bike home, about five miles. My arm hurt so bad I just cried all the way home. My dad helped me into the shower and took me to the hospital for x-rays.

That day I pledged that I would never let anyone do that to me again. It was that very day that I evolved — changed in every way — to defense. I could be the hitter. I could inflict the pain on other kids. Yeah.


BASEBALL — MY SECOND LOVE

Ironically, the thing I liked most about baseball was the contact. The contact — can you believe that? I was a catcher. I controlled the game, called the pitches, worked the psychology, played the umpire, and knew every player on the opposing teams, so I could place our defense. But what I lived for and loved most was seeing a runner turn third base with a full head of steam and knowing I was going to get to really smash the guy.

I also loved to throw runners out on the base paths. I dared them to steal. I threw at them on first base as they got a lead. I would throw at them on second and on third. I wanted them to know I wanted their heads. I wanted to intimidate them.

One time, another catcher and a friend of mine, George Sammons, was up at the plate. I nicknamed him "Hotdog" because he was arrogant and cocky. We used to talk tough to each other because we were both so competitive. We battled constantly to be known as the best catcher in the league. (By the way, I played for a great sponsor: Southern Sanitation. It was the local garbage company. Chico's Bail Bonds had nothing on us. We stunk most of the time, and we talked a lot of trash. Ha!) George got on base, and as usual, I wanted him. I wanted him sooo bad. I threw to first after every pitch, trying to pick him off. Somehow he got to second base. He taunted me, walking around off the bag, looking at me and laughing. I was mad. He just stood out there, between second and third base talking about me and to me. It was unbearable.

Well I had had it. I made up my mind that after the next pitch I was going to charge him. Yeah that's right, charge him. After the next pitch, I came out from behind home plate and sprinted toward George, who was casually walking around, this time he had his back to me. Too bad. By the time he turned around, I was all over him. My actions shocked him — as well as everyone at the park. The only thing he could do was duck. I hit him so hard we both went flying. By the time the dust settled, the umpire (totally shocked) called him out. Yes, "Y'er out!" Great play, Krauss!

My baseball career came to a screeching halt when our high school baseball coach, "Swede" Hatfield, called me down in front of the rest of the team. I should have thanked him, but he died a couple of years ago. It started when, being somewhat cocky again, I went to him in confidence and told him I was ready to start — as were a couple of the other players he had benched. Well, in front of the team he called me out.

"Barry Krauss thinks he is better than everyone else on this team, and we are not going to tolerate this kind of conduct!" He let everyone know that if we were ever going to win, we had to have players that were not self-centered like I was. He dismissed the team after making an example of me. At that moment I told him I was done. I quit.

Baseball was over for me. It was a sad ending to a game I loved.

Even sadder was the fact that I didn't realize what I had done. I had approached this man as an adult — almost an equal — a fact he obviously didn't appreciate.

He made a huge negative impact on me. Like all lessons, you can take what you want from them.

At the time, it only made me reluctant to trust coaches and adults.

The second part of the lesson came to me years later under Coach Bryant: if you have someone who believes in you and encourages you, there is nothing you cannot achieve. It only takes one coach saying the wrong thing, at the wrong time, to discourage someone, to end a career.

Thank God for all of my good coaches. And thank God for Coach Bryant. Twenty-five years after leaving Alabama, I'm still learning from him. Throughout my adulthood there have been times when I have experienced a situation that triggers a flashback to something he told me — which at the time meant nothing to me — and its significance strikes me like a lightning bolt.

As long as there is one person alive who has played under Coach Bryant, he is still teaching.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Ain't Nothin' But a Winner by Barry Krauss, Joe M. Moore. Copyright © 2006 Barry Krauss and Joe M. Moore. Excerpted by permission of The University of Alabama Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword Don Shula vii

Acknowledgments ix

Chance of a Lifetime-It's All about Dreams 1

Pompano, Football, and Life in a Pink House 3

The University of Alabama, Paul "Bear" Bryant, and Me 9

Learning Life, and Football, from a Living Legend 22

The Usual Suspects in an Unusual Place 36

The Usual Shenanigans 45

The 1978 Season 55

The Goal Line Stand 64

Reality Check 73

The Vanquished 75

How I Single-Handedly Almost Lost the National Championship 81

Life after the Sugar Bowl 85

Welcome to the NFL 90

New Life in Indianapolis 102

It's Easy-Just Take a Right in Cleveland and Keep Driving 112

My Longest Love Affair 119

The Journey 121

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