Nike has given college programs like Oregon a sense of fashion. Flashy jerseys, chrome helmets and stylish cleats all want to become the standard, however, Alabama football remains loyal to its creed, winning. Head coach Paul Bryant may have endorsed the houndstooth look, but he was more focused on creating a championship mindset and molding boys into men.
Former Alabama player Leroy Jordan was as tough as they come. He was a two-way athlete under Bryant from 1960-62. Jordan excelled in run blocking and pass protection at center, while terrorizing opposing running backs and quarterbacks at middle linebacker.
He saw action in three bowl games for Alabama, and guided the team to national championship in 1961. The Crimson Tide tallied six shutout victories in the 1961 season, including a 34-0 win over Auburn. Yours truly of Touchdown Alabama Magazine has compiled a table listing Alabama’s offensive and defensive statistics with Jordan at center and linebacker.
|Alabama’s statistics with Leroy Jordan (1960-62)|
|Year||Offense: Center||Defense: Middle linebacker|
|1960||16.6 points per game||5.1 points per game|
|1961||27.0 points per game||2.3 points per game|
|1962||26.3 points per game||3.5 points per game|
Alabama fell short of accomplishing a national championship in 1962, but it finished the season at 10-1 and defeated Oklahoma 17-0 in the Orange Bowl. Jordan recorded 31 tackles in his final game. He was named a consensus All-American and finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 1962. Jordan was selected in the first round (sixth overall pick) of the 1963 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He would spend 14 seasons (1963-76) in the National Football League.
Jordan’s career started at weakside linebacker, but his heart was set on middle “Mike” linebacker. He lacked size for the position at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, but Jordan possessed toughness, competitiveness and leadership. Cowboys’ head coach Tom Landry moved him to middle linebacker, and Jordan blossomed into the team’s all-time leader in solo tackles (743).
Jordan carried the championship mindset that he learned at Alabama to the NFL. He played in three Super Bowls and five NFC Conference title games. Dallas won Super Bowl VI against Miami 24-3 in 1972. Jordan was selected to the Pro Bowl five times (1967-69, 1973-74), and was voted first-team All-Pro in 1969. He was selected to the Cowboys Silver Season All-Time team, and became the seventh member inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor (1989).
|Leroy Jordan’s achievements with the Dallas Cowboys (1963-76)|
|Statistics||Ranked all-time: Career, Season|
|743 solo tackles||Second all-time in franchise history|
|1,236 combined tackles||Second all-time in franchise history|
|100 solo tackles in 1975||Third-highest in a single season|
|97 solo tackles in 1968||Fourth-highest in a single season|
|32 career interceptions||Seventh all-time in franchise history|
Jordan was rewarded for his success at Alabama. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1980, and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983. He accomplished a 29-3-1 record at Alabama. Coach Bryant said Jordan was one of the finest football players the world has ever seen.
“If runners stayed between the sidelines, he tackled them,” Bryant said. “He never had a bad day, he was 100 percent in practice and in the games.”
Stephen M. Smith is a staff writer and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine, Pick Six Previews and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, @ESPN_Future.