Alabama Football: A story too good for Crimson Tide fans to miss

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports /

No matter how long any of us have followed Alabama Football, there are stories about people we remember, but may not know well. The magnitude of college football’s greatest program is a cherished fact, but there is more to Alabama Crimson Tide history, little-known stories about those who did much to build and sustain the program.

Every Alabama football fan knows Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant. Those of us, of a certain age, can recount dozens of Bryant stories and memories. What is too often lost in re-tellings of the Tide’s Bryant era is the impact made by others who toiled with Bryant to make Alabama great.

A new window has been opened into the history by a book titled A TIDE OF DREAMS: The Untold Backstory of Coaches Paul “Bear” Bryant, Carney Laslie and Frank Moseley. The author, Carey Henry Keefe is the granddaughter of former Alabama football player and Alabama assistant coach, Carney Laslie.

Recently, I had a long and thoroughly engrossing conversation with Carey about her book. The project has taken her many years to complete and in talking with her it was clear a ‘labor of love’ best describes her effort.

The book is about men who played and coached football. But it is not a football book. It is a story of how three special men came together as Alabama football players in the 1930s and the lifelong bond that followed. A bond that perhaps had a greater impact than any other relationship in their lives. What the three men shared was a love of football, leading to friendships that came to be shaped by war, a passion for molding young men and a deep reservoir of love and respect for each other.

While listening to Carey’s insight into the three men, I wondered if Carney Laslie and Frank Moseley ever felt as though they were in the shadow of Bryant. Carey’s response to that question was they did not. Of course, the friendships were melded long before anyone ascribed greatness to Bryant, when Laslie and Moseley were his equals. It is a tribute to each of them that being ‘equals’ never fundamentally changed.

When speaking with Carey, she told me a story not in the book, despite it being an eloquent example of the love Paul Bryant had for her grandfather. She gave me permission to tell it here.

After Laslie’s death in 1970, while golfing, Bryant was asked about his old friend. The response revealed a depth of feeling few would expect in a man known for many things, but perhaps most of all for his toughness. According to Carey, a teary-eyed Bryant said of his equally tough friend, Carney Laslie, “Carney Laslie was the sweetest man I’ve ever known.”

Carey Henry Keefe will be in Tuscaloosa for the Texas A&M game. She will be doing book signings at the Bryant Museum and the Alabama Supply Store.

More information about the book is available at Carey’s website. There is no better endorsement of the book than one written by the retired Director of the Bryant Museum, Ken Gaddy.

"Carey Henry Keefe has written a love story, or better said, a story of many loves. ….the devotion of a group of men who experienced the common bond of playing football for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide takes the reader on an adventure…. through the trials of World War II, family, winning and losing football games."

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Carey will be signing books on Friday at the Bryant Museum between 11:00 AM CST and 3:00 PM and again on Saturday from 10:00 AM CST until 2:00 PM. Also on Saturday, she will be signing at the Supe Store from 2:30 PM until 7:00 PM.