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Barnes blogs about... losing a legend

Barnes blogs about... losing a legend

by Mike Barnes

Bio | Email | Follow: @MikeB_KVUE


Posted on November 8, 2012 at 10:04 AM

Updated Sunday, Oct 20 at 3:06 AM

It'll be one of those moments you never forget.  Where you were when something happened.  Not a little something... but something big.

Me?  I was standing in my kitchen at 7:20 in the morning, having just finished making lunches for my kids to go to school.  I happened to look at my phone at the front page of facebook and saw the news.

Darrell Royal was more than a coach.

I've talked to dozens, if not hundreds of his former players through the years.  They all say they owe him so much because he taught them so much about football, and, more importantly, about life.

I remember being so intimidated when I met him the first time more than 20 years ago.  He was bigger than life.  An icon.  A legend.  And yet, I learned quickly, he was pretty humble.

I figured out in the early 90s that if there was a story where you needed to interview the Coach, the best place to find him was on the golf course at Barton Creek, early in the morning.  He played 18 holes in record time, every day.

And golf was the reason behind one of our first good visits.  We had a segment in the 90s called "Beat the Pro".  It involved golf and charities and celebrities, and you'd think a legend like Darrell Royal would have no time for something like that.  Just the opposite.  He was happy to help and excited to raise money for a charity.  It was 1993 when we did it the first time, and we had a great visit out at Riverside golf course.  It used to be Austin Country Club, and that brought back some great memories for the coach and a great visit for me.

I was lucky enough to be paired with Coach Royal at a celebrity golf tournament around 1998.  He didn't like the pace of play, but I had the incredible pleasure of visiting with him for four hours.  Talking about golf, football, and life.

He was always nice to sign an autograph for my son or sign something for a charity auction.  I don't think he ever really grasped why someone would want his signature.  He acted like he was just an old football coach.

But he was much more than that.  He was a legend.  A man with a big heart.

Darrell Royal will be missed.