Albert Long never intended to play football for the Tar Heels. The quarterback at Durham High was more interested in baseball and basketball, his goal being to play major league baseball. So in 1951 he accepted half scholarships for both of those sports at Carolina, telling college football recruiters all along they were wasting their time.
But following the 1952 football season, coach Carl Snavely was fired and George Barclay hired in his place. Out went the single-wing formation, in came the T-formation.
“There were six or seven single-wing tailbacks in the program, but they didn’t have a single quarterback,” Long recounts in his new book, It Was Just a Coincidence—Stories of God’s Providence. “That’s when they started recruiting me. They wined and dined me and talked about what it was like to run onto the field with 40,000 people in the stands.”
In the end, the lure of $15 per month laundry allowance swayed Long to give football a shot and he wound up earning two letters with the football team. Combine those with three in baseball, one in basketball and one in track, Long became in the early 1950s the only athlete at Carolina and in the fledgling ACC to learn letters in four varsity sports. He is a 1955 graduate of Carolina (School of Education) and that year received the prestigious Patterson Medal, awarded to the university’s top student-athlete.
The distinction of earning seven letters in four sports played an important role in Long’s life as recounted in the book that Long wrote along with Chad Bonham and published earlier this year. The book shares many of the stories that Long has experienced over a lifetime of speaking to school, church and athletic groups and ministering through such organizations as Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Teen Crusade and Happenings Inc.
After graduation, Long spent 12 years in the insurance business and in 1973 formed Albert Long Happenings Inc., a non-profit Christian organization. Over the next quarter century, Long traveled across the state and the nation and spoke to more than 2,000 high school, middle school, assembly programs and sports banquets. In 2007, Long was inducted into the FCA Hall of Champions.
“Athletes, by spreading the word of God, can help this country as much as anyone,” Long says. “All they have to do is play on the team coached by Him.”
You can order the book directly from Albert. Write a check to Happenings Inc. for a donation amount that you feel comfortable with. Albert will personalize the book and send it to you. His address is 1 Marigold Place, Durham, NC, 27705-1958. The list price is $14.99. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.