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On this day in sports history


The Greenville Standard


I attended the April 17, 1971, A-Day Game. I invited my friend Ben Whitley to go with my daddy and me.

We left early Saturday morning and drove to Tuscaloosa an unusual way, via Camden. The reason why was my daddy had bought tickets for a fundraiser for Wilcox Academy in Camden.

I remember when we stopped to get food, the radio was on and the song playing was “Joy to World” by Three Dog Night.

Every time I hear that song, it reminds me of that, and also reminds me of my daddy saying that when he would see “Miss Joy” Whitley, Ben’s mother.

We got to Tuscaloosa around 11 a.m. and stayed at a friend’s house on 15th Street. Sad to say it, but it is no longer there.

A block down the street was Joe Namath’s Restaurant. We went to it, and it was very nice.

I believe the A-Day was around 2 o’clock that day. We sat down in our seats and looked across the field.

Joe Namath and Howard Cossell were there. Joe helped with spring practice and Cossell was doing a segment for ABC’s Wide World of Sports on Joe.

This was the first A-Day Game the Dixie Howell Memorial Award was presented. This is for the Most Valuable Player in The A-Day Game.

Dixie Howell was a teammate of Coach Bryant’s on the 1934 team. Howell was an All

-America, MVP 1935 Rose Bowl, and member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Howell passed away in January 1971.

Running back Steve Dean of Orlando, Fla., was the first winner of the award. The Crimson Team won 21 -15.

We spent the night in T-Town. Before leaving town on Sunday morning, we dropped by the University Golf Course. Joe and Coach Bryant were playing in a golf tournament.

We followed them on the course. A question I always wanted to ask Joe presented itself.

My daddy said, “Colin, there is Joe, you can ask him the question.” Joe heard my daddy and looked at me.

I asked, “Joe did you score against Texas in the Orange Bowl.” Joe had a classic answer, “No, but I was over.” Then he said, “I had a bad night.”

Joe was named MVP of the game going 18-35, 255 yards, and two touchdowns. Alabama lost 21-17.

One official said Joe scored and another said he did not. His call overruled the other call.

This past Saturday went I went with Michael Rodgers to the A-Day Game and had a great time. White won 13-10.

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