Feliciana Sports Legends – Dr. Glenn Brady

For my last or one of my last Feliciana sports columns, I return to my sports foundation and inspiration, Dr. Glenn “Coach” Brady — my father.

Many in the Felicianas know him from his tenure as the superintendent of East Feliciana Parish schools, where he visited every church to demonstrate his commitment to education was not limited to Monday through Friday nor to a select ethnic group.

It started in Clinton where he was an underclassman member of the 1950 Clinton High School State Championship football team. After his senior season, Clinton High coach M. Ney Williams called him to the practice field to meet an assistant on Andy Pilney’s staff at Tulane. Instead of giving him a T-shirt or cap emblazoned with Tulane’s logo, the coach opened the trunk of his car and pulled out a helmet and shoulder pads and told him to suit up. While he put on his gear, the coach set up some cones about three yards apart then put on his own shoulder pads over his street clothes and donned his helmet.

The story goes the coach said, “Glenn, run the ball past me. But get ready. I’m gonna hit you.” And so, he ran and got tackled. Got up and ran and got tackled. Then the coach said, 'Now, Glenn, you tackle me.’ ” And so it went for about 15 minutes before the coach informed him, “I think you can play for us.”

Why Tulane? “Because they wanted me,” Brady said. After a year of not getting the ball enough, Brady matriculated elsewhere.

Another self-deprecating story from his playing days involved future Heisman trophy winner John David Crow running him over during an All-Star game. In the same game, he shared the offensive backfield with Jim Taylor, who would go on to LSU, the Green Bay Packers, and the NFL Hall of Fame.

He picked up a bunch of degrees (thus the Dr. before his name); coached football and other high school sports at U-High (twice), St. James and Hammond; crossed the country with college football stops in seven different states; and spread American football across the pond in France, Germany, Ireland and England.

As far as innovation, he took credit for bringing the one-back offense to Louisiana college football. He created the “picket fence” defense at University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee out of necessity. He had no defensive linemen and turned linebackers into stand-up defensive linemen that would slap the offensive lineman in the head at the snap of the ball and go make plays.

“Led the country in run defense” he would say. The head slap is no longer legal.

He blew his knee out coaching at Western Illinois during one offseason demonstrating “stick drill” to a lineman. The barbaric competition has two players place both their hands on a 2-foot long stick. The coach blows the whistle and the winner is the person who takes the stick. No rules (head-butting and kicking were legal). Get the stick.

He recruited a running back to Sacramento State with a low ACT score that the admissions department flagged. He pleaded his case for the running back by stating that “he’s ideal, a ‘tabula rasa.’ ” Look it up, and you will laugh.

On losing a Thanksgiving-day game in California on a last-second field goal he remarked, “He missed it. He was wide right. I saw it. I was standing on the hash mark.”

Along the way he raised five sons who would earn college football scholarships (they all contributed to this article). He never complained to, nor contradicted, our coaches. In the Brady household, the coach was always right, at school and at home. One son was accidentally hit in the jaw with a shot and knocked out by one of his high school track coaches. The coach was horrified and later in the day apologized abjectly to Coach Brady as if he violated some coaching commandment. Brady responded: “Don’t sweat it John. He’ll get over it.”

I attended a football game with him after his retirement and he correctly predicted a turnover would happen within five plays. Impressed, I asked, “Why did you give up coaching?”

He paused for effect and responded, “When you know it (turnover) is coming and you know that there is no play you can call that will change that outcome, it takes the life out of you.”

When told by one son that he was going to play football at SMU because “they have cool uniforms.” He exploded with, “SMU? They're not going on probation. They're going to jail!" Brady’s prediction was close. They did not go to jail, but they did get the death penalty.

Another son was preparing to see one of Brady’s former players, an orthopedic surgeon, to fix his broken ankle. “Introduce yourself by telling him he needs to run a 49-second leg in the mile relay for us to win state,” Brady said.

The orthopedic surgeon previously had, in 1963, helped U-High win its first track and field state championship. Incidentally the ankle was broken by the subject of a previous Feliciana legend article, Marvin Holland, our uncle and Brady’s brother-in-law, in a pickup basketball game.

His passing in February provided the family with the opportunity to reacquaint with and remember former players who went on to star on the gridiron at LSU (Lloyd and Barton Frye and Del Walker), won Super Bowls in the NFL (Warren Bankston, Mike Reinfeldt and Mike Wagner) or simply loved to play football because of the way it was taught by our father. Those of us who knew him were blessed, and this only scratches the sports surface. His impact in education in the Felicianas and Zachary in later years could fill many books.

Warren Brady covers sports for The Watchman and Democrat. He can be contacted at extra@theadvocate.com.