THIS IS EPISODE 70 OF THE SPORTS SPECTRUM PODCAST
As a former NFL player, Bill Curry learned the game from such legendary masters as Bobby Dodd, Vince Lombardi, and Don Shula. He snapped the ball to a who’s who list of quarterbacks, including Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, and Billy Lothridge. He was a two-time Pro Bowl center and a three-time NFL Champion, including victories in Super Bowls I and V.
As a coach, Bill restored the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to national prominence. At the University of Alabama, where he was named Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year, Bill led the Tide to an SEC Championship and to berths in the Hall of Fame Bowl, the Sun Bowl, and the Sugar Bowl. At Kentucky, Bill led his Wildcats to their first bowl game in nearly a decade. In 2008, Bill became the first head coach at Georgia State, who played its inaugural season in 2010.
As a leader, Bill served as President of the National Football League Players Association during one of the most tumultuous periods in NFL history. He was later the Chief Operating Officer for the National Consortium for Academics & Sports. From 2006 to 2008 Bill served as the Executive Director of the leadership initiative at The Baylor School in Tennessee. Bill’s counsel is treasured throughout the country by businesses and other organizations attempting to cultivate leaders from within their ranks.
As an analyst and on-air personality for ESPN, Bill was the broadcast equivalent of comfort food. There was nothing better for the true football fan – no surer source for that indescribable feeling of satisfaction and contentment, and, indeed, that all was right in the world of college football – than settling into a plush easy chair on Saturday night and hearing that unmistakable voice analyzing . . . teaching . . . but never pandering.
In 1977, with dear friend and muse George Plimpton, Bill wrote his first book: “One More July – A Football Dialogue.” In 2008, Bill’s next book – “Ten Men You Meet in the Huddle” – was released by ESPN books and was immediately praised by author Pat Conroy as the best book ever about the NFL.
As a husband, he has somehow managed – through 35 moves and more than fifty years of marriage – to hang onto to his brilliant and beautiful wife Carolyn, who was Bill’s grade school sweetheart. In Bill Jr. and Kristin, Bill has two incredibly accomplished and successful children. And, in grandchildren Alex, Elliot, Evelyn, Claire, Brett, Jack and Jamie, Bill has the most promising generation yet of the Curry family.
On this episode of the podcast, Bill Curry talks about growing up with a skeptic of a Father, how his faith grew from watching his Dad’s conversion to Christ, asking for forgiveness on Vince Lombardi’s death bed, and how his faith in Jesus has helped him overcome adversity as a head coach. This podcast is storytelling gold.
2:45 – When he was first introduced to faith in Christ.
7:30 – Being a believer in Christ and being competitive and fierce on the field.
10:20 – Playing at Georgia Tech under college HOF’er Bobby Dodd.
14:40 – His first meeting with Vince Lombardi.
20:30 – Playing for the Packers under coach Vince Lombardi.
24:05 – Asking for forgiveness to Coach Lombardi and how that changed him.
25:30 – Vince Lombardi’s faith
29:15 – Becoming a coach after having been coached by legends.
32:05 – Learning more from winning or losing.
33:30 – Adversity and how his faith helped him get through it.
39:05 – The Huddle!
43:40 – What God is teaching Bill right now.
— Jason Romano (@JasonRomano) November 17, 2017
“I don’t think God cares who wins the games, and I don’t think Jesus causes us to make a good tackle.”
“Every human being has a talent that the rest of humanity doesn’t have. We’re all different. We each have a gift. If we’re going to be on a team, i expect God expects us to find our gift, develop it, and give it to the team with all our heart.”
“It was terrifying. I was horrified. I was hostile toward him. I couldn’t forgive him for not being Bobby Dodd, my college coach. I thought he was abusive. I was wrong.” (On Lombardi)
“I pray that when I face my moment of truth like that, that I can be half the Christian that Vince Lombardi was.”
“Everything is your responsibility. Real leadership never points fingers. Never blames someone else. If you lose the game, if your guys aren’t performing well, it’s the head coach’s responsibility.”
“I’m so horrified by the lack of quality of sheer courtesy and kindness that we see from people that are posing as leaders, and I’ve become judgmental and the next thing you know, I’m calling them the same names they’re calling other people.”
Champions: Coach Lombardi Showed Up every day, always 15 minutes early, and his Singleness of Purpose was so pronounced we all shut up and listened. He could turn it onto an individual, a position group, or the team. He forced us to focus like a laser, whether we liked it or not.
— Bill Curry (@coachbillcurry) November 15, 2017
You can follow Bill on Twitter @CoachBillCurry and learn more about Bill on his website at BillCurry.com