From cotton patch to pro ball

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 23, 2006

Lee Roy Jordan talks about his career

By Tammy Leytham

The Times-Journal

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All-Pro and Hall of Fame member Lee Roy Jordan spoke to the Selma Quarterback Club Monday night, reminiscing about playing for two of the best coaches of football – Paul “Bear” Bryant and Tom Landry.

“I’ve been around these great coaches. It was unbelievable,” Jordan said. “I spent 18 years with those guys. That’s a big part of a young guy’s life.”

Jordan, a native of Excel, played linebacker for the University of Alabama in the early 1960s, where he was first team All-American and had 31 tackles in the Orange Bowl against the University of Oklahoma in a 17-0 win.

Playing at Alabama was “an unbelievable experience of what four years can mean and what a lifetime can mean,” he said.

He said Bryant’s philosophy was to outwork everybody. “He appreciated a guy who took whatever ability he had and maximized it.”

Bryant also “had a knack for knowing what he was going to say” at halftime depending on the game situation, Jordan said.

He went on to play for the Dallas Cowboys, where he was a two-time All-Pro and five-time Pro-Bowler. He played in three Super Bowls and five NFC Championship games.

He called Landry “one of the great people in the country. He had his priorities right – Christianity first, his family second and football third … He was such a leader for so many of us young players.”

Jordan talked about playing with top athletes like Roger Staubach, Randy White, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Charlie Waters and Bob Hayes, who he said along with Don Meredith “changed the way football was played.”

He also paid homage to the players he competed against. “I played against some great players. That’s a fantastic feeling,” he said.

“I left Excel and a cotton patch and shared the field” with players like Johnny Unitas, Walter Payton, O.J. Simpson, Terry Bradshaw and others.

When asked who was his least favorite person to tackle, he said, “Larry Csonka.”

“He’d really bruise you up and beat you up,” Jordan said. “He didn’t dodge anybody … you either tackled him or you got some help tackling him.”

He also gave a nod to Jim Brown, “probably one of the greatest players

to run the football.”

Jordan and his wife – who is from Eutaw in Greene County – have three children and seven grandchildren.

He operates a lumber company in Dallas.