In our second installment in this series we were able to catch up with former Alabama Crimson Tide defensive tackle Anthony Bryant. To get the full transcript of our interview, click here:
For those who remember the teams from the early 2000’s, it’s hard not to remember Anthony “Bear” Bryant. The mammoth of a man whose nickname was so fitting in so many ways being he truly was the size of a grizzly bear. Not to mention no other nickname is more endearing in the hearts of Alabama fans than the one his best friend in high school affectionately called him.
However, for those who really knew Bryant, there was so much more to him than between the lines of Bryant-Denny Stadium. Hailing from a small town outside of Greensboro, Alabama the kid from Sunshine always had big dreams of playing for his home-state team.
Blessed with the size and strength akin to a giant and calves the size of bowling balls, the real-life Goliath was also a gifted athlete who excelled in several sports in high school. Not many people who are 6-foot-3 and 300 plus pounds are known to be more than football players, but Bryant was a very talented basketball player and track star as he led his team by averaging 19 PPG his senior year. Not only that, he won the state title for the shot put as well.
But for Bryant, all of this was great, but he truly wanted nothing more than to be a normal person. During his time at Alabama, Bryant could be seen many times hanging around with regular college students apart from his teammates. While he was close with many players on the team, Bryant never wanted to be identified solely by his presence as an Alabama football player or the notoriety he gained from it. In his mind he was a humble kid from a small country town and his roots would not allow him to be bigger than that.
While he continued to make his presence known off the field, Bryant handled business on it. His most successful season was in 2003 when he posted 44 tackles, 12 quarterback hurries, and that unforgettable safety against Auburn. According to Bryant, “That was the best game I ever had. That game put me on the map.” And that it did. After that season, Bryant was rated as one of the top defensive tackles for the 2004 season. An argument could be made he would have fared better opting for the draft after that season, but Bryant wanted to be apart of something special. The 2004 season did not necessarily go as planned as injuries and lack of depth hurt the Tide and their season ended with a loss in the Music City Bowl and a 6-6 record.
Despite this, Bryant still was able to play six seasons in the NFL and is thankful for his time in the league and the friendships he established. However, if you ask him, there is nothing like Saturday’s in Tuscaloosa and playing with his teammates. For Bryant, the kid from a small town with big dreams to play for his beloved childhood team did that and more and will always remember his years wearing crimson and white.