A Tradition of Champions


A Tradition of Champions

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Shaun Alexander and the 1999 SEC Champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide

When legendary University of Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant “heard Mama calling,” and returned to his alma mater from Texas A&M in 1958, he vowed to bring Bama back to greatness with pride, sacrifice and “blood, sweat and tears.” It didn’t take him long. Four years later Alabama won their first in a string of national championships with “Bear” at the helm.

Bryant’s lingering shadow fell across the university with his death in 1982, but the values he preached to his warriors live on. Names like Namath, Stabler, Hannah, Newsome and Musso will forever be etched on the minds of football fans everywhere, but no player has personified Bear's’ definition of tradition any better than Shaun Alexander.

Alexander, the Tide’s All-American tailback, whose penchant for touchdowns may have been exceeded only by his desire to share his faith, ran over, around and through enemy defenses. His career was marked by some of the most exciting displays of athletic prowess in the storied history of Alabama football.

During his years at Alabama, the big-smiling tailback out of Florence, Ky., helped lead the Tide to the Southeastern Conference Championship, became Bama’s all-time leading rusher with 3,565 yards, and set a new SEC record with 23 touchdowns in a season. Alexander’s uncanny ability to accelerate quickly, coupled with his remarkable moves and punishing efforts to get that extra yard, left opposing coaches shaking their heads following his Saturday afternoon performances.

Now in a “Tradition of Champions,” America’s Sports Artist, Rick Rush, has set Shaun Alexander, one of Bama’s greatest, against a backdrop of Crimson Tide landmarks and memories to produce a unique work that is drenched in all the tradition, pride and excitement of Alabama football. In “Tradition,” with help from a crushing block by Outland trophy winner Chris Samuels, Alexander is shown scoring the final touchdown in the 34-7 SEC Championship victory over the University of Florida, which the Tide whipped twice during the 1999 season.

In his incomparable style, Rush has carefully selected unforgettable images from Tide football history and school tradition to complement the sensational Alexander: Paul Bryant, forever everyone’s consummate football coach; stately Denny Chimes, symbol of the Tuscaloosa campus; Bryant-Denny Stadium, where on crisp fall afternoons crimson clad Tiders have rolled on to victory after victory; and the 1999 SEC trophy, the prize for Bama’s relentless drive to overcome adversity and finish first.

This beautiful work, a treasure for football fans everywhere, is certain to become an enduring tribute to the legacy of the Crimson Tide, “A Tradition of Champions.”