Legendary football coach for the University of Texas Darrell K Royal was honored Tuesday afternoon with a star-studded memorial at the Erwin Center.
The famed coach died last Wednesday after a history of battling of Alzheimer’s disease.
Two-and-a-half hours before his memorial service, a line consisting of players, coaches and friends formed, all waiting to honor the winningest coach in U.T. history.
"It's one last time that we can honor a man who was honorable," Mike Sullivan, a former player, said.
Sullivan played under Coach Royal from 1966 through 1968. It was the coach’s guidance that inspired Sullivan to become a football coach himself.
"I always think back and say, 'I wonder what Coach Royal would have done in this situation?'" Sullivan said.
Perhaps an even greater testament to the coach's character was the presence of some of his biggest rivals.
"We were fierce competitors but then we became great friends and even vacationed together some," former Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Frank Broyles said.
Those who knew Coach Royal said he cared more about a person than their title or class.
"He believed that the judge of a man's character is whether you can treat someone that can help you the same way you treat someone that can't,” Sullivan said. “So, you treat them all the same whether they are the janitor or the president of the university, and that's the way I think he lived his life."
The same attitude of respect carried across sports lines and even social lines. Some of Royal's best friends were outlaw country singers, specifically the Gatlin Brothers.
"The Good Book says that the saints rejoice when a good saint comes home and how could it be any more of a good saint and a good Texan than Darrell Royal," Larry Gatlin said.
The Gatlins’ special bond with Coach Royal went beyond sports or music. Coach saved their lives.
"I too found out I had a problem with alcoholism and drug addiction and I am here to today and my kids are here today because of Darrell and Edith Royal,” Rudy Gatlin said. “I love them. He was a great football coach and a great man and did a bunch of wonderful things but he also saved a bunch of our butts."
Royal served as the Longhorn's coach from 1957 to 1976, and the stadium where the Longhorns play their home games was renamed in his honor in 1996.
Click the video below to watch the memorial in full
TWC News: Famed UT coach Darrell K Royal remembered at star-studded memorial
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