Johnny Musso, Alabama’s Best to Wear No. 22, Tells His Story
Alabama football is 22 days away from kicking off its 2021 season kicking off on Sept. 4 against the University of Miami in Mercedes Benz Stadium. The number 22 has been synonymous with greatness at Alabama, most recently with 2009 Heisman Trophy winning running back Mark Ingram and 2020's Doak Walker Award winner Najee Harris.
Birmingham native and College Football Hall of Famer Johnny Musso played for the Crimson Tide from 1968-71 and may have been the best to wear the famed Alabama 22.
"I've been so proud of the way, I don't know if this happened by mistake or if they've really been particular on who they've given that number to," said Musson on Thursday on Inside the Locker Room. "But I'm so proud of the people who have worn it. It has been amazing to me through the years to see that number perform. It makes me smile every time."
Musso made the number famous by rushing for 2,741 yards and 34 touchdowns in three seasons of action for the Crimson Tide. He scored 16 touchdowns on the ground en route to an All-SEC and All-American season in his final season with Alabama.
Not only was he stellar on the field but the Italian Stallion was able to utilize tear-away jerseys in order to evade tacklers and move the ball for the Crimson Tide. He detailed with Wimp and Barry Sanderson what made Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant change to the tear-away threads.
"Coach Bryant just had a way when we looked at the film of making a point to the players without saying anything. He did it with that rewind button on the play. If you did something and screwed up he would rewind and rewind it," said Musso.
"There was a run on the goal line and I got taken down. I was leaning towards the endzone, I was on about the three or four yard-line and somebody had both hands on my jersey. I pulled and I was pulling toward the goal line and you could see the jersey stretch and they pulled me backwards and he ran it back-and-forth and back-and-forth. I thought he was making a point telling me 'you got pulled down by a jersey tackle'. The next game we had tear-away jerseys."
Musso went on to be drafted No. 3 overall in the 1972 NFL Draft but opted instead to play in the Canadian Football League for the BC Lions. He retired after a pro career that saw him also spend time with the Birmingham Americans and the Chicago Bears.
Musso was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1989 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000. He joined Inside the Locker Room on Thursday to talk about his son's playing at Northwestern, changing to the wishbone offense in 1971, his tear-away uniforms, some of his favorite games, his recruitment and the 1971 Iron Bowl.
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