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The Midweek Motivator – It Don’t Cost Nothin’ To Be Nice

One of our exemplary market managers (Dave Beck) sent me an inspiring story I had long forgotten. Alabama’s iconic coach Paul “Bear” Bryant is forever etched in Football history. Speaking at a Touchdown Club a few years before his death, he shared this story.

“I had just been named head coach at Alabama and was in my old car way down in south Alabama recruiting a prospect who was a very good player but I was having trouble finding his place. Getting hungry I spotted an old cinder block building with a sign out front that said, “Restaurant.” I pull up, go in, and every head in the place turns to stare at me. Seems I’m the only white fella in the place. But the food smelled good so I head to a cement bar and sit.

A big ole man in a T-shirt and cap asks me, “What do you need?” He said that I probably wouldn’t like what he was serving today; they were having chitlins, collard greens and black eyed peas with cornbread. I looked him square in the eye and said, “I’m from Arkansas, I bet I’ve eaten a mile of mile of them. Sounds like I’m in the right place.” Everyone smiled as he left to get my plate.

“You ain’t from around here then?” he asks. I explain I’m the new Football coach up in Tuscaloosa and I’m here to find whatever the boy’s name was, and he says, “I’ve heard of him. He’s supposed to be pretty good” and he gives me directions. He says “lunch is on me” but I told him for a lunch that good I should pay. Then the big man asked if I had a photograph or anything he could hang on his wall to prove I’d been there. I didn’t have any, but took his address and told him I’d send him one.

I met the kid later that day, didn’t think that much of him and on returning to Tuscaloosa found a picture and wrote, “Thanks for the best lunch I’ve ever had.” Now let’s go a whole bunch a years down the road: Alabama had Black players by then and I was back down in that area recruiting an offensive lineman we really needed. Well, he tells me he has two friends heading to Auburn and he was set on going there. So once again I leave empty-handed.

Two days later I’m in my office and get a call from the kid who turned me down. “Coach, do you still want me at Alabama?” I told him I sure did and asked, ‘Son, what changed you mind?’ “My Grandpa told me you ate in his place and sent him a picture, which has hung there ever since. He said you kept your word which is more important than Football and I had to play for a man like that, so I’m going to.” Bryant says he was floored but remembered what his own grandmother had told him many times: “Son, it don’t cost nothin’ to be nice but it costs a lot by breakin’ your word.”

“When I went back to sign that boy I brought his Grandfather a bunch of pictures and a signed football.

I made it clear to my assistance coaches to keep this story and these lessons in mind when they’re out on the road, and if you don’t remember anything else from me, remember this: it really doesn’t cost anything to be nice, and the rewards can be unimaginable.” Bryant won 323 regular season games with the Crimson Tide.