Character & Mental Toughness- 9/11 Birthdate of a Great American

Obviously, 9/11 will always be tied to events in 2001.  However, one of our finest Americans was also born on a 9/11 long before.  He both personified and taught the character traits of courage, perseverance, focus, discipline, teamwork, effort, sacrifice, initiative, self-control and leadership.  The very traits that have always made this country great.  The very traits we will need to pass on in order to continue the success of our nation.  As we pay our due respects to those who suffered on 9/11, I hope we also take pause to celebrate what made this man, and this country so great.

When he was 13 he was so poor that he agreed to wrestle a bear for a dollar a minute.


When he was a senior in high school he won a state championship in football and played every minute of every game; offense, defense and special teams.


In college he played on a national championship team.


After his country was attacked without warning he quit his dream job and enlisted in order to defend his country. 


When the men he led as an officer were met with a full on attack he was credited with saving many of their lives through his leadership under extreme pressure.


When he returned from service he took over four organizations and made each one better.


He won six national championships.


Paul “Bear” Bryant, a great American, was born on September 11, 1913.   His words still inform those who seek to achieve success in any endeavor…………..

“I think the most important thing of all for any team is a winning attitude. The coaches must have it. The players must have it. The student body must have it. If you have dedicated players who believe in themselves, you don’t need a lot of talent.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“The idea of molding men means a lot to me.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“If wanting to win is a fault, as some of my critics seem to insist, then I plead guilty. I like to win. I know no other way. It’s in my blood.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“The old lessons (work, self-discipline, sacrifice, teamwork, fighting to achieve) aren’t being taught by many people other than football coaches these days. The football coach has a captive audience and can teach these lessons because the communication lines between himself and his players are more wide open than between kids and parents. We better teach these lessons or else the country’s future population will be made up of a majority of crooks, drug addicts, or people on relief.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“Sacrifice. Work. Self-discipline. I teach these things, and my boys don’t forget them when they leave.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“I’ll never give up on a player regardless of his ability as long as he never gives up on himself. In time he will develop.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“Set goals – high goals for you and your organization.  When your organization has a goal to shoot for, you create teamwork, people working for a common good.” -Paul “Bear” Bryant

“Don’t talk too much. Don’t pop off. Don’t talk after the game until you cool off.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“You have to learn what makes this or that Sammy run. For one it’s a pat on the back, for another it’s chewing him out, for still another it’s a fatherly talk, or something else. You’re a fool if you think as I did as a young coach, that you can treat them all alike.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“If a man is a quitter, I’d rather find out in practice than in a game. I ask for all a player has so I’ll know later what I can expect.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“It’s awfully important to win with humility. It’s also important to lose. I hate to lose worse than anyone, but if you never lose you won’t know how to act. If you lose with humility, then you can come back.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“Losing doesn’t make me want to quit. It makes me want to fight that much harder.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“The biggest mistake coaches make is taking borderline cases and trying to save them. I’m not talking about grades now, I’m talking about character. I want to know before a boy enrolls about his home life, and what his parents want him to be.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“What are you doing here? Tell me why you are here. If you are not here to win a national championship, you’re in the wrong place. You boys are special. I don’t want my players to be like other students. I want special people. You can learn a lot on the football field that isn’t taught in the home, the church, or the classroom. There are going to be days when you think you’ve got no more to give and then you’re going to give plenty more. You are going to have pride and class. You are going to be very special. You are going to win the national championship for Alabama.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“I’m no innovator. If anything I’m a stealer, or borrower. I’ve stolen or borrowed ideas from more people than you can shake a stick at.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“I’m no miracle man. I guarantee nothing but hard work.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“Be aware of “yes” men. Generally, they are losers. Surround yourself with winners. Never forget – people win.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“If there is one thing that has helped me as a coach, it’s my ability to recognize winners, or good people who can become winners because they are willing to pay the price.” – Paul “Bear”Bryant

“If you want to coach you have three rules to follow to win. One, surround yourself with people who can’t live without football. I’ve had a lot of them. Two, be able to recognize winners. They come in all forms. And, three, have a plan for everything. A plan for practice, a plan for the game. A plan for being ahead, and a plan for being behind 20-0 at half, with your quarterback hurt and the phones dead, with it raining cats and dogs and no rain gear because the equipment man left it at home.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“My approach to the game has been the same at all the places I’ve been. Vanilla. The sure way. That means, first of all, to win physically. If you got eleven on a field, and they beat the other eleven physically, they’ll win. They will start forcing mistakes. They’ll win in the fourth quarter.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“Little things make the difference. Everyone is well prepared in the big things, but only the winners perfect the little things.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“The first time you quit, it’s hard. The second time, it gets easier. The third time, you don’t even have to think about it.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“There’s a lot of blood, sweat, and guts between dreams and success.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“People who are in it for their own good are individualists. They don’t share the same heartbeat that makes a team so great. A great unit, whether it be football or any organization, shares the same heartbeat.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“I told them my system was based on the “ant plan,” that I’d gotten the idea watching a colony of ants in Africa during the war. A whole bunch of ants working toward a common goal.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“We can’t have two standards, one set for the dedicated young men who want to do something ambitious and one set for those who don’t.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“I honestly believe that if you are willing to out-condition the opponent, have confidence in your ability, be more aggressive than your opponent and have a genuine desire for team victory, you will become the national champions. If you have all the above, you will acquire confidence and poise, and you will have those intangibles that win the close ones.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride – and never quit – you’ll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“A good, quick, small team can beat a big, slow team any time.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

“I have always tried to teach my players to be fighters. When I say that, I don’t mean put up your dukes and get in a fistfight over something. I’m talking about facing adversity in your life. There is not a person alive who isn’t going to have some awfully bad days in their lives. I tell my players that what I mean by fighting is when your house burns down, and your wife runs off with the drummer, and you’ve lost your job and all the odds are against you. What are you going to do? Most people just lay down and quit. Well, I want my people to fight back.” -Paul “Bear” Bryant

“I have tried to teach them to show class, to have pride, and to display character. I think football, winning games, takes care of itself if you do that.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant


About coachbillmoore

Educator/Author/Speaker/HS & NCAA Coach Character Coach Read Coach Moore’s book “On Character and Mental Toughness” Paperback available at Barnes & Noble or Amazon. "The measure of your character and mental toughness is the space between what you are doing and what you could be doing." -Coach Bill Moore
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