I mentioned a few weeks back the possibility of revealing a Joe Willie story. Now that Alabama has won another title, the time is right.

First the background. There is a certain country club in Alabama lore where the rich and famous of Alabama play golf, dine, imbibe and enjoy an occasional friendly game of "cards" in private meeting rooms. Legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant was a member there. Coach didn't play cards with the fellas at the country club.

Most any Sunday afternoon, especially during football season, Bear's driver and bodyguard, Billy, would bring Coach to the club early Sunday afternoon. Coach would walk past the fancy rooms, nod to the gentlemen poker players and head back toward his private spot in the men's locker room where he'd open up a newspaper. He'd catch up on the news and enjoy being alone, I suppose. No one bothered him, except to say "hello" or "nice game."

A locker room attendant who went by the name of "Nap" would greet him, take his hat and offer to shine his shoes while he read the paper. Billy would push open the louvered doors over the ledge reaching into the bar and order for Bear the same thing every Sunday, a hot dog and a vodka on the rocks. Every Sunday.

One particular autumn Sunday in 1979, following a Bama victory on the gridiron the day prior, Joe Namath walked in prior to Coach's arrival. Joe walked past the poker tables into the men's locker room and ordered a drink through the window and sat down. About that time, Nap popped in and Joe jumped to his feet, gave Nap a big hug and hello, then slipped him a crisp $100 bill.

"What's up with that?" the bartender wondered, almost out loud. After Joe left, Nap was summoned over to explain.

[Here comes the story, veritable and true.]

In the early 60's during his sophomore season, Namath had country club privleges. He had been partying all night following a Crimson Tide victory, was extremely drunk and almost passed out in the late morning when he found himself in the country club locker room with no one around except Nap.

Knowing Coach Bryant was due any minute, Nap took Joe and literally stuffed him into a locker where he passed out and began to sleep it off. Coach came in, greeted Nap, ordered his hot dog and vodka and read the paper. When he was done, he left. Nap pulled Namath out of the locker, cleaned him up and sent him back to the dorm. With his scholarship and position on the football team fully intact.

And that is why Joe Namath, after leaving Alabama for the professional ranks, gave Nap a big hug and $100 every time he visited the country club locker room.
#1 in 1959 Topps. Officially known as Assassin according to stanthemanfan 3/31/2014 and god of minor league basketball according to cammb.