clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

ONE COACH AND THE RACCOON HE CALLED FRIEND

New, 85 comments

IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TODAY

Gene Stallings was the coach at Alabama from 1990—1996. He is a blatantly favored personality on this site for a few reasons. He looks like a weathered old tree, and has since he was 17 years old. Stallings endured the Junction Boys camp at Texas A&M; he was carried off the field by Bear Bryant himself at the 1968 Cotton Bowl when his Aggie team beat the Tide 20-17. Stallings helped start the first school for children with disabilities in Alabama, and showed up to a devastated Tuscaloosa after the 2011 tornado with his grill and a cooler full of hamburgers ready to go for victims and relief workers.

Gene Stallings is generally good people, is the point. And now we know that he is not just a friend to humanity, but to the animal kingdom as well.

Another recent development in Stallings' life was a flourishing friendship with . . . a raccoon (although his father had no known aversions to the animal). But he recently was compelled to terminate the relationship, which began when the raccoon was given to him last year. "There came a time I had to let him go. Those of us who have children, there's a time that you have to let your children go," Stallings said at the Southeastern Conference's preseason media day. Before he set the raccoon loose, Stallings called him in out of the woods to bid him farewell. "I felt dumb out there in the woods hollering for a raccoon," said Stallings, who eventually was heard. "He jumped on my leg, crawled up on my shoulder and was licking around on me. "We visited a little while, I let him go and that's the last I saw of him. . . . Hopefully, he met some friends."

According to Cecil Hurt, the raccoon’s name was Gerald. He was named after the cousin of Gene’s wife, Ruth Ann. That’s when you know you’re a beloved family member: you start becoming the name for random friendly raccoons.

This being something related to Alabama football, it must have a painting associated with it, yes?

Yes, yes it does. We hope you’re having a good day, and that the image of Gene Stallings hollering in the woods after a pet raccoon haunts you for the rest of your afternoon and evening.

(Thanks to Greg Auman, Matt Baker, and Cecil Hurt for this important story.)