Paul (Bear) Bryant disclosed here yesterday that he not only came very close to becoming the Washington Redskin coach in 1948, but also was offered stock in the club that present owner Jack Kent Cooke later bought for $350,000.
Cooke now owns 86 percent of the franchise, estimated to be worth anywhere from $18 million to $35 million, including television revenue of $5.6 annually on a four-year contract with the three major networks.
Bryant also revealed that he was offered the Miami Dolphis job in 1970, before Don Shula was hired, and the Alabama coach credited Redskins founder George Preston Marshall from getting him appointed coach at the University of Maryland for the 1945 season.
Bryant will be 67 yeard old Sept. 11 and is coming off winning the national collegiate championship, but he said he still is making scouting trips for Alabama.
In fact, he said, he had been in Florida where he signed a prospect to a letter of intent before coming here to accept an award from the American Legion at a luncheon in the Capital Hilton Hotel.
Asked at a news conference why he never accepted a pro coaching job, he referred to his age and remarked that he intended to continue coaching at Alabama.
"That's my team," he said. "This would be a great year to retire (with Alabama national champion), but what would I do?"
Bryant said he was coaching at the University of Kentucky when Marshall offered him the Redskin job. "We were playing Marquette at Milwaukee and Marshall came there to talk to me. I came very close . . . real close to taking the job.
"I remember C. Leo DeOrsey (a business associate) was with him when I was just about to sign. Marshall said I could buy Harry Wismer's stock for $2,800 (a 10 percent down payment).
"I told him I did not have that much money and he said he would lend me money. He said to Mary Harmon (Bryant's wife), 'Why don't you go over to the hotel and wait for us, hon.' That didn't set well with her. Or me.
"She had a lot of questions to ask, and she talked me out of it. I had great respect for George Marshall. I was told by some people he was a good friend, but not as good to work for."
It would have cost Bryant $28,000 to buy the stock of Wismer, who later feuded with Marshall and became the owner of the New York Titans in the American Football League.
Wismer bought stock owned by DeOrsey for $27,500 in 1950 and sold it in 1961 to Cooke and Bill Shea, New York attorney for whom Shea Stadium was named, for $350,000.