Bobby Humphrey talks candidly

Bobby Humphrey talks candidly

As a youngster, Bobby Humphrey watched many great football games being played on Legion Field as he sold cokes and parked cars to earn extra money. He grew up right across the street from the field in the housing projects. Humphrey went on to play at the University of Alabama for Ray Perkins and drafted in the first round of the NFL to the Denver Broncos.


"It was a minute from my front door to Legion Field, Gate 1," stated Bobby Humphrey. "While I was selling cokes, I would look out over that field and say that I would love to be playing on Legion Field one day."

Bobby Humphrey played at Glen High School as running back, wide receiver, outside linebacker, defensive line, and nose tackle with running back as his primary position. Humphrey went on to play at the University of Alabama for Ray Perkins and drafted in the first round of the NFL to the Denver Broncos.

But something great took place from the day he looked out over that field and wanted to play as a little boy until the day he actually got to step out on that field and play for Alabama. That something was hard work, dedication, separation, and a strong desire to go after his goal.

The following is a Q&A time with Bobby Humphrey.

Shea Lowery: Most fond memory of high school football:

Bobby Humphrey: "My most fond memory was my last game I played in high school against Jones Valley. We played in the rain and won. Then after the game, we all slid in the mud."

Shea: Was it always a dream of yours to go to Alabama:

Bobby Humphrey: "I think as a little boy, I always wanted to play at Legion Field. I grew up right across the street from Legion Field in the housing projects named Elyton Village. It was a minute from my front door to Legion Field, Gate 1.

"I sold cokes in the stands during the game. I parked cars first at an early age. Then when I reached the ninth grade, I sold cokes in the stadium on the weekend. So, I became an Alabama fan through watching them play on Legion Field."

"I looked out there and said, 'I would love to be out there and play one day.' I never knew I would be playing for Alabama, but I knew I always wanted to play at Legion Field."

Shea: What did you do to prepare yourself to get to Alabama, what did you do differently than everyone else:

Bobby Humphrey: "I think any athlete who wants to excel has to do a little bit more than just the average person or athlete. I worked out after practice, and I worked out on weekends. I constantly ran hills, not knowing the benefit it would get me. I kind of separated myself.

"I speak of that word separation in regard to setting yourself apart. I wasn't purposely setting myself aside or purposely separating myself. I was just trying to better myself and make sure I stayed in the best shape possible. I wanted to be physically conditioned so that when I got ready to perform, I could perform at a higher level. A level at which I needed to excel.

"When I use the word separate, I'm not trying to say that I was any better than anyone else but, what I am saying is that I took it upon myself to do the extra work that I felt necessary or deemed necessary to be able to excel.

"God gifted me with the ability to play, along with a great work ethic. He trusted me to do exactly what I needed to do to be able to excel and, in return, that helped me to go to the University of Alabama and on to the NFL.

Shea: Who did you play for at Alabama:

Bobby Humphrey: "I played for Ray Perkins from 1985 to 1986. Then Bill Curry from 1987 to 1988. I was drafted in the first round of the drafts to the Denver Broncos as the 15th pick."

"I played at Denver for three years. I was Rookie of the Year in 1989, then I was Pro Bowl in 1990. My first year as a rookie we made it to the Super Bowl. That was a great accomplishment."

Shea: What is the difference in playing college football and playing Pros:

Bobby Humphrey: "Speed is one. The size and the physical contact is another. You get that consistently on a weekend-to-weekend basis. Sometimes on a college schedule, there may be a team or two that probably won't give you a whole lot of competition. You probably will not have to play a four quarter ballgame. You probably may play a two or three quarter game, and you let a lot of your rotation guys get in. Everybody sees the field. But in Pros, you are pretty much going to play against somebody good every weekend.

"Your worst NFL team is still a team made up of All-Americans that came out of college in first, second, and third round draft picks. These are guys that can really ,really play. The Pros will always have athletes that can run, jump, and be very physical."

Shea: What did football teach you:

Bobby Humphrey: "Football taught me how to be tough, how to be disciplined, how to be responsible, and how to be a team player. It taught me about life."

Shea: How did the coaches influence your life:

Bobby Humphrey: Coaches taught us and told us what we needed to do to be able to achieve some things on the football field and that translated into those things in life. I think the game of football is about winning. The game of life is about winning. The game of football is about being determined and never quitting. It is the same in life. You need to be determined and never quit.

"The thing about football is that you are put in situations where sometimes you don't achieve your goal so you gotta be able to come back and be able to work hard so that you can go back out there and win again the next week. But I don't think you get that training being a regular person.

"Sometimes you go through life and don't experience drastic things until you get on up in age. When you go out in athletics you kind of experience those things early on whether it be somebody you have a difficult time blocking or whether, in my case, you are a running back and you fumble the ball in a critical situation and you have to go back out and redeem yourself.

"Whether you end up fighting for a ball game that you end up losing with time running out. You have to come back the following weekend and work hard and practice hard and be able to go out and win the next ballgame.

"Those are the things that mentally teach you how to be mentally tough and mentally strong and to realize that regardless if you fail, you can't just quit. You gotta get back up and keep pushing."

Shea: How important is it to be an influence in other peoples lives:

Bobby Humphrey: "I think influence is very important. Influence with actions and words. I can't say too much of accomplishments. In my case, you may appreciate my accomplishments that I have accomplished, but you can learn from what I am doing now.

"What I am doing now is more of an influence than what I did back then. What I am doing now is more of an influence to young people than what I did back in the days, because many of the young people don't even remember me playing at Alabama.

"Your influence can always influence somebody else. There is someone always watching what you do, what you say, and how you act."

Shea: A true meaning of a champion:

Bobby Humphrey: "I think the true meaning of a champion is someone who never, ever quits. Someone who always finds a way to win. A champion is often not the one who actually wins every battle, but the one who puts forth the effort to put themselves in a position to win every battle."

Shea: Every day we have wins and sometimes losses. How did you get passed those losses on the field and in life:

Bobby Humphrey: "I never went into a ballgame in my entire playing career or coaching career thinking about the win or the loss. I always went in every ballgame with the attitude that I was going to give 110 percent.

"I was going to be prepared as a player and as a coach for every situation. I was going to do whatever I could do to be able to give my best effort and if winning was the result, then I was satisfied and happy because I had given my very best. And if losing was the result, then I was still satisfied because, again, I gave my very best.

"You're not going to win every time in life. There are going to be some lost battles. The Bible says that a "man born of woman is a few days and full of trouble." So, in other words, it's kind of hard to have a life from start to end where you are not going to face any opposition. You are going to have some challenges.

"Now the key to that is, what are you going to do in those times when losses come or when you are having a rough time? Do you give up or do you quit? No you don't."

"I start my day off every day with saying, "It's gonna be a good day regardless." Regardless of what happens today, every day to me is going to be a successful day. And what it is going to do is put the bad and the good in together.

"But at the end, the weight of the good is going to supersede the weight of the bad. It's almost like making a cake. The cake is good, but what you put in the cake to make the cake is not very good like flour, eggs, and other things. But when you put all those ingredients together, good and bad, you bake the cake and it turns out good.

"When you put good and bad in the pot, it's going to be for good and my day is going to be complete."

Shea: How do you prepare yourself each day to become a better man:

Bobby Humphrey: "I have a pocket Bible in my car. I try to read a scripture every morning. I read that scripture and I always say to myself, today is going to be a good day. That is how I start my day off. There are some things I do in preparing myself for the day.

"It's never the same every day and never goes as planned. I also start off my day by saying anything that happens today, the Lord is going to take care of it. He's gonna be able to handle it."

Shea: If you had your life to do over, what are three things you would do differently:

Bobby Humphrey: "I wouldn't do anything differently. I don't believe in do-overs in life. I think God lays a plan out for your life and those plans are combinations of rights and lefts, wrongs and rights, and highs and lows. But, He obviously is the navigator. So, if I wanted to do something different, I wouldn't be where I am now.

"If I go back and change things, then I don't meet the Lord on my path. So I try not to go back and say, if I would have done things differently, what would I change. I am happy for where I am now. I am satisfied with my life with Christ, with my wife, my family and my Church family.

"I have a combination of family and friends who are amazing. And I have a wonderful job, a great boss, and I get to watch my kids play on Thursday and Friday. My life is great with the Lord. If I go back and change three things, then I change who I am now."

Shea: How do you want to be remembered one day:

Bobby Humphrey: "When people speak of me, I don't want anyone to say that I was a great football player at Alabama or that I was the first round draft pick. I care less about any of that. I want people to march down that isle and testify about what good deeds I have done, in this life, in terms of who I have helped, and what I have achieved for my family. And I want God to say, 'well done thy good and faithful servant.'

Bobby Humphrey is married today to Barbara Humphrey, and they have five children, Maudrecus, Breona, Marlon, Brittley and Marion. His hometown is Birmingham, Ala. He is a very successful business man, husband, and dad.

We can learn so many things from his story. One, put God first and everything else will fall into place. Two, dare to dream. No matter the situation you are in or your circumstances, dare to dream.

Three, be willing to go after your dream because when you work hard and give it your all, you too can see your dream come true. Four, be willing to separate yourself and do what it takes to be successful in reaching your dream.

There is a cost in everything you do. And sometimes that cost is a lot of pain and sacrifice. But you have to do it.

Five, always keep a great attitude.

Bobby Humphrey is a true champion and a true man of God. A champion doesn't stop being a champion when the last game of teh season is played. A true champion is a champion until he takes his last breath. You see that in Bobby Humphrey.

It has been several years since he played at the University of Alabama, but he still stands a champion today. The University of Alabama has produced many champions along the way who have inspired, encouraged, and motivated many great men not only on the field but off the field as well. Those men today stand as mighty warriors of faith, hard work, and family.

Shea Lowery is the Director of Quinn's Ranch Children's Home.
Quinn's Ranch

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