A Life Between the Lines
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Eddie Conyers was born in Montgomery, where his mother ran a boarding house. Over the years, the family relocated to Auburn-Opelika, Andalusia, and in 1942 they settled in Tuscaloosa. Eddie never left. In the years which followed, he carved out a legacy, working for every Alabama Head Football Coach from Bryant to Saban. Eddie shares the unique perspective of a life between the lines.
“Really about the time Coach Bryant came here in ‘58 was my first year officiating high school ball. I have seen more kickoffs than anybody in the world. Ought to be in the Guiness Book of Records,” Eddie laughed.
The Bryant Museum tells the story of a lot of games over a lot of years, but before the games were played there was practice.
And Eddie was there for them all. “Carney Laslie handled the periphery details for Coach Bryant. Carney asked me did I officiate, and I told him yes. I did fail to mention I’d worked one high school and I think that was on the clock. Here I am going to the University of Alabama with Coach Bryant, and to tell you I’d be intimidated would be an understatement. And I sat right there at that far end and if you notice, Fred, when you sat there you looked up at him and he looked conversely down at you, and it was frightening.”
So, every year since Eddie Conyers has officiated practice for the Crimson Tide.
After Bryant came Ray Perkins. “Ray was the mentally toughest ball player I’ve ever seen, of all of them I’ve ever seen. Mentally tough. But I think the greatest all round athlete I’ve ever seen was Ozzie Newsome. I can’t think of a position he couldn’t have played and done it adequately.”
And for the man who has worked for both, Eddie shares this, “Coach Bryant dealt more with hard-nosed, Dubose, Mike Dubose, small players that would just hard down knock you crazy. Coach Saban is a master at evaluating talent and coaching them up from there. Both were obviously great leaders.”
Eddie still goes to practice every day, helping organize the officials who have succeeded him on the field and four years ago on his birthday, a surprise.
“One of the managers came up and said Coach Saban wants you to come up to the end of practice. It was a total surprise to me. And he had a shirt with my name and 90 on the back of it. I told him at that time that he’d gotten me in a lot of trouble. He said, why? I said it’s going to come out on television that I’m 90 years old and I said I told a girl at the bar the other night I was 21. He said if she believed that don’t have anything to do with her.”
A lot of football has been played around the University over a lot of years and a lot of practices as well, and all those practices over all those years were under the watchful whistle and eye of Eddie Conyers. He was always there, and Absolutely Alabama.
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