The annual Paul William ‘Bear’ Bryant Namesake Reunion brings out 700 named after Alabama Crimson Tide coach

The annual Paul William ‘Bear’ Bryant Namesake Reunion brings out 700 named after Alabama Crimson Tide coach


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — There’s a scene within the 1985 comedy “Spies Like Us” through which Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd, posing as medical doctors, enter a tent filled with precise medical doctors. They greet each other by saying “Physician …” “Physician …” “Physician …” “Physician …” in a round-robin introduction that finally ends up with the title getting used 24 instances.

Twenty-four? That is nothing. Strive 100. That is the variety of IDs it could have taken to make the rounds at an invitation-only picnic in Tuscaloosa two weekends in the past, earlier than Alabama’s residence opener versus Arkansas State.

“What’s your title?” “Bryant.” “Properly, that is my center title!” “It is my daddy’s center title!” “What’s?” “Bryant.” ‘Properly, that is my first title!” “No kidding, it is my daughter’s first title, too!” “Actually? As a result of that is my spouse and it is her center title!”

“Bryant …” “Bryant …” “Bryant …” “Bryant …”

Welcome to the 23rd annual Paul W. Bryant Namesake Reunion, the place the one requirement to attend is that you just or a member of your instant household is willingly and lovingly — generally strategically — named for the coach referred to as “Bear.” Everybody gifted with some model of Coach’s moniker wears a nametag, in order to maintain all of them straight.

“My title is Chase Bryant Duncan,” mentioned a teen, proudly pointing to his nametag as he stood within the meals line on the garden of the Paul W. Bryant Museum along with his household. “My dad says he named me Bryant in order that I would not develop as much as be an Auburn fan.”

As Chase Bryant’s father nodded proudly, one other teen, Bryant Wilson, shouted “Identical! My dad wished to set me on the suitable path as quickly as I used to be born! And he did! Roll Tide!” Wilson’s father added his personal nod of approval, replying loudly, although muffled by a chunk of sizzling canine, “Rollf Tfide!”

Overhearing this change was one more teenager, Bryant Denny Turner, whose dad and mom dared to go even a step additional and provides their son the title of the legendary Alabama soccer coach and the title of the sector the place the Bear did his homework, Denny Stadium. “When you’re gonna be in, be all-in,” defined James Turner, Bryant Denny Turner’s father. “That is Alabama soccer. We give 100 % round right here. Even with names.”

Within the Yellowhammer State, they have been giving 100 % to the Bear Bryant title recreation for a really very long time now. Bryant coached the Tide for 25 years, from 1958 to 1982. He died on Jan. 26, 1983, just a few weeks after his ultimate recreation on the sideline, the ’82 Liberty Bowl. In accordance with Social Safety data, since 1959 there have been 1,403 Bryants born in Alabama — so many who it piqued the curiosity of the Bear’s unique namesake, Paul William “Bear” Bryant Jr. After a lifetime of listening to “I used to be named on your daddy,” it was Junior who approached the museum that honors his father with the concept of compiling a database of these whose names do the identical.

“We hear about folks actually virtually solely by means of phrase of mouth,” defined Ken Gaddy, director of the Paul W. Bryant Museum, positioned within the coronary heart of the College of Alabama’s campus. “However we now have a registration course of. Folks contact us on a regular basis, and we ask them to fill out a kind with their birthdate, a bit household historical past and a selected part to fill out that begins with, ‘That is the story of me or my little one being named for Coach Bryant …’ That permits us to do some analysis and confirm it. We will not simply have anyone who is called Paul or William and even Bryant exhibiting up and attempting to sneak into the group. It is definitely not too severe of a course of by any stretch, however we actually need to know folks’s tales and provides them an opportunity to share these tales.”

That is what the annual namesake reunion is all about, bringing the dwelling tributes collectively to create a way of crimson-blooded group amongst these linked by their labels. This 12 months’s reunion was the primary to characteristic a carnival theme, full with cotton sweet, county-fair-style video games and — look forward to it — a teddy-bear-building station.

“My favourite half is assembly all the parents and listening to all of the totally different title mixtures they give you,” defined Curtis Paul Parker of Anniston. He was there along with his daughter, Carlin Bryant Parker, who was obsessive about these carnival video games. “Sure, sir, we have Paul and Bryant coated proper there in a single home.”

The database contains round 700 names, and the museum manages to trace most of their whereabouts by way of each old-school correspondence and newfangled social media. By far the commonest title (and most versatile, utilized by women and men) is Bryant. There are additionally a ton of Pauls and Paulas. Any William must be ready to essentially make his or her case to be included, however many have efficiently achieved so. And sure, there are some Bears, however none made an look throughout the first couple of hours of this 12 months’s reunion — though at the very least two of the households in attendance mentioned that they had a canine named Bear.

“We had a canine named Bear as a pet, however then we modified it to Bryant,” confessed a household from Huntsville that additionally has two human Bryants on the roster. So why change the canine’s title? “As a result of my spouse’s favourite film is ‘Candy Dwelling Alabama’ and what’s-his-name [Josh Lucas], his hound canine was named Bryant for Coach Bryant and our canine seemed identical to the canine from the film.”

There have been additionally no Sabans on the reunion. Not but anyway. One grandmother launched her preschool-aged grandson, Hayden Bryant Kennedy, this fashion: “If I would had my approach, he’d be Nicholas Bryant Kennedy.” Patsy Abbott mentioned it pointedly — like, actually pointing at her grandson as he waited to construct a bear. “I mentioned, ‘Why would you title him after the best coach of all time when he might be named after the 2 best coaches of all time? However I bought outvoted.”

As highschool pupil Cameron Bryant Collier mingled with incoming Alabama freshman Bryant Edward Wealthy (as you have probably found out, the reunion crowds skew very younger), Leonard Bryant Jackson joked that he was going to yell out “Hey, Bryant!” simply to see how many individuals would flip round. “Then,” he added, “I am going to do the identical with Paul.”

Had he achieved that, a type of who answered again would have been Paul Francis Murray of Cellular. However not like the others on the namesake reunion, his title wasn’t merely a tribute. It was a hand-me-down.

“My dad says he named me Bryant in order that I would not develop as much as be an Auburn fan.”

Chase Bryant Duncan

“Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant was my great-grandfather,” the eighth-grader mentioned with satisfaction as he sat in his great-grandfather’s museum, in a convention room adorned with oil work, bronze busts and even a marionette of the person behind his title.

Sitting with Paul Murray was his cousin, Mary Harmon Hilburn, granddaughter of Bear. The supply of her title was Mary Harmon Bryant, the spouse of Bear and First Woman of Alabama Soccer. Hilburn’s mom was Mae Martin Bryant, and Paul Murray’s mom is Mae Martin Murray, the daughter of Paul “Bear” Bryant Jr. and, like Mary Harmon Hilburn, the granddaughter of Paul “Bear” Bryant Sr. and Mary Harmon Bryant. Rising up, everybody referred to as Bear Jr. “Papa,” aside from Hilburn, who referred to as Papa’s daddy “Papa” whereas everybody else referred to as him “Grandpapa.” Subsequent fall, one other great-grandson, Paul William Bryant Tyson, shall be on Nick Saban’s roster as a freshman quarterback.

Are you getting all of this?

“Oh, it goes a lot deeper than that,” Hilburn mentioned, rolling her eyes and grinning. “I host the household holidays right here at my home in Tuscaloosa, and we now have so many Pauls and Marys and Mays that I’ve to attract up place playing cards for everybody and I’ve to make use of a really subtle system of final initials. In any other case, we would do not know what was what and who was the place.”

Not not like the garden outdoors on the reunion, the place the Pauls and Paulas and Bryants ate crimson-colored snow cones and craned their necks to learn one another’s nametags.

“It is precisely like that,” Hilburn added. “It is loopy. However that is the way it goes with household, and all these folks on the market immediately with Papa’s title, that is what they’re: household.”

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