As best I can tell there have been two “Quarterback Clubs” in Albany.
The first organization was also occasionally called the “Touchdown Club”. It was started by Booger Seely and held an annual meeting at Radium Country Club. The event was a notorious affair that lasted into the early morning hours.
In a recent conversation Seely recalled having Bud Wilkinson and Otto Graham visit as speakers. When Graham came to The Good-life City, he apparently got on the wrong plane in Atlanta and wound up at the Tampa airport. Seely had to convince Mayor Gray to send his plane to get the wayward guest.
A few years later, Lamar Reese had moved up the club ranks and was charged with booking the speakers. The young builder set his sights on landing the hottest young name in the sport one “Bear” Bryant.
Surprisingly Bryant agreed to come to Albany for a very reasonable fee. In fact, the fee was so low Reese asked the coach, “That’s all you want coach?”
Bryant responded, “Hell I ain’t worth much, boy.” So the date was set, but before the annual banquet arrived a story broke in The Saturday Evening Post accusing “The Bear” of conspiring with University of Georgia Athletic Director Wally Butts to exchange information prior to a Tide versus Bulldog game in September 1962.
The Post story spelled out how George Burnett, an insurance agent in Atlanta, was accidentally connected to a call between Bryant and Butts, who allegedly informed the Bama coach about Georgia’s formations, plays and strategy. Nine days after the conversation. Alabama beat Georgia by 35 points. They had been a 17-point favorite prior to kickoff.
If you think the Cam Newton saga rocked the football world, try accusing a major coach of cheating and gambling. The repercussions were huge and eventually bankrupted and ended The Saturday Evening Post.
That story was co-written by Furman Bisher who usually served as master of ceremony at the Albany meetings.
A month or so prior to the 1963 event, Reese got a phone call from someone at Alabama. If Bisher was going to be in Albany, then Bear had to cancel. Bisher then arraigned for Bobby Dodd to fill in.
Maybe it is time to rejuvenate the Albany Quarterback Club. So far, Kevin Hogencamp, owner of The Albany Journal, and Danny Carter, of The Albany Herald, have expressed an interest in helping form a new club.
Hopefully we will have more information out soon. My vision is to have maybe four lunch meetings per year. One in August, October, December and February. Maybe we can shoot to get a club started by August. It would be ideal if we could attract current and former Division 1 coaches and also recognize local high school players from programs in Dougherty and Lee counties.
A Facebook page will be started soon. Please look for it or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to become part of the planning stage or if you have a contact with a club in another community. No need to recreate the wheel when other communities have working models we can copy.