Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rest in Peace, Bullet

The man nicknamed “Bullet,” Robert Skelton, has died. Bullet’s name is writ in crimson flame in part because of one of the greatest comebacks in Alabama football history. Kirk McNair of BamaMag.com has a great recap of the 1960 showdown between Paul Bryant’s Crimson Tide and Bobby Dodd’s Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Bobby SkeltonLater in the fourth quarter, Trammell was injured. Skelton’s teammates told him Bryant was calling for him, but Skelton didn’t believe them. He was convinced he was finished. Finally, though, he answered the call.

Skelton said, “Coach Bryant was a few feet on the field and I went up to him. He put his arm around me. I was 5-11 and he was nine feet tall. I was expecting him to give me some real knowledge. He said, ‘I’m going to give your little ass one more chance.’ We were backed up and he didn’t even give me a play.”

Alabama had the ball at its own 20 with 3:21 to play. Twice in the drive, Alabama had to go for it on fourth down, making one first down on a Fuller run and another on a Skelton pass to Ronsonet.

Skelton and former Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson share a common thread—both were on campus during a paradigm shift in the fortunes of the football team. Skelton witnessed the transition between JB “Ears” Whitworth to Paul W. Bryant. Wilson of course saw the end of the Shula era and the ascendance of Tide football under current coach Nick Saban.

Both players watched their former teammates win the national championship the year following their graduation.

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