TUSCALOOSA, AL -
Ed Conyers, 86, isn't quite sure when he first started officiating Alabama practices.
"Since either '61 or '62, I honestly don't remember," Conyers said. "I think it was '61. I didn't think it would be a permanent thing."
For 50-some-odd years, it's been a dream job come true.
"It's really beyond that," Conyers said. "It's just something, a lot of people would give anything in the world to be here, and I'm one of them."
Conyers lucked into the role. During the Paul "Bear" Bryant years, the everyday practice official was a no-show. So Conyers was contacted, and he's been working ever since.
When he first started officiating, he did not earn one penny. But in the 1970's, the NCAA required schools to pay anyone working on the practice field. So he was given $10 per practice. And he still can't believe it.
"This is the honest truth. They said practices will be $10," Conyers said. "I swear I thought I had to pay $10. I got $5 coach, can i work half of practice?"
From "Bear" to Stallings to Saban and all the coaches in between, the former Gulf South Conference referee has worked with them all.
"He's important to the offense, because he never calls a penalty on the offense," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "It's like playing with 12 guys out there."
"Coach Saban's terminology, 'I don't think there is a such thing as a defensive backfield penalty'," Conyers said.
"We had a scary moment a couple years ago, the quarterback scrambled out of the pocket, hit him, knocked him for a loop, hit his head on the turf. Scary for a minute," Saban recalled.
Despite all the bumps and all the bruises, for Conyers it's all worth it.