Bob Pettee at his home in Bent Tree. pettee played with Alabama in the late 50s and early 60s. Pettee is retired now, but very active locally. He volunteers with his church, Fellowship Presbyterian, as well as with the Boys & Girls Club where he is a mentor and benefactor.
I knew I was at the right place when I saw the University of Alabama flag. Bob Pettee, who played on the Alabama football team under the iconic Bear Bryant, greeted me at his door in a red dress shirt with the team’s “A” embroidered on the chest. Inside, the stairwell was lined with memorabilia, including a team photo taken after Alabama clinched the National Championship in 1961 – the first of Bryant’s coaching career. He played for Alabama between 1959 and 1962, and was on the team briefly with Joe Namath who was a freshman player when he was a senior.
Pettee was born in Florida but ended up at the University of Alabama on a full scholarship after Coach Bryant recruited him from Manatee High School. He sat down with the Progress to talk about his football days, Bear Bryant, and how college ball has changed over the years.
Your high school coach recommended you to Coach Bryant, who came to your house in Bradenton, Fla. to consider recruiting you. What was the visit like?
My high school coach and mentor Wheeler Leeth was an Alabama graduate and he called coach Bryant and sent some game films of me, even though I wanted to go to The Citadel. Coach Leeth convinced him to come down and visit. Coach Bryant came in and introduced himself and zeroed in on my mother, who was a big football fan. (Laughing) He just charmed her to death. When he left, he said he wanted me to come to Alabama, but I had to write a letter saying why I wanted to come and I objected. I told my mother I wanted to go to the Citadel but she said no, you’re going to Alabama.
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