Did you heed Alabama coach Bear Bryant’s words on Sunday? Many people did.

Published 6:39 am Monday, May 10, 2021

Did you heed Bear Bryant’s word Sunday and call your Mama?

The legendary Alabama coach has become the unofficial mascot of Mother’s Day in recent years — thanks to the power of the Internet.

Somewhere in the world of social media, folks have begun sharing a video of a heart-tugging South Central Bell Co. commercial from the 1970s that features legendary University of Alabama coach Paul W. “Bear” Bryant. The 30-second ad ends with Bryant asking viewers if they’ve called their mothers today.

A YouTube video of the Bryant/Bell ad has been viewed more than 300,000 times. Last year, CoachTube.com tweeted the video, garnering 210 retweets and nearly 500 “likes.”

The ad begins with Bryant, clad in a crimson sweater, hanging up the phone in his office.

“One of the first things we tell our players is to keep in touch with their families. And when our freshmen first arrive, we ask them to write a postcard home, right then,” Bryant says in a gravelly voice as the camera gradually gets closer.

“You know, we keep them pretty busy, but they always have time to pick up the phone and call. And it’s really important to keep in touch.

“Have you called your mama today? I sure wish I could call mine.”

Legend has it that Bryant, who died in 1983 at the age of 69, veered away from the script and ad-libbed the last line.

The ad ends with a vocalist singing South Central Bell’s slogan, “Reach out and touch someone.”

Bryant’s mom was Ida Mae Kilgore Bryant of Moro Bottom, Arkansas. He was the 11th of her 12 children and grew up to play college football at the University of Alabama.

As a coach, Bryant won 323 games in 38 years. He started his career at the University of Maryland, moved on to the University of Kentucky, then Texas A&M University before settling in at his alma mater.

Joe Namath talks with Paul W. “Bear” Bryant in this file photo from 1981. (Submitted photo)

During 25 seasons in Tuscaloosa, Bryant earned six national championships and 13 SEC titles, while launching the careers of future NFL legends Joe Namath and Ken Stabler.

When asked why he was leaving Texas A&M for Tuscaloosa, Bryant had a simple answer:

“Mama called.”