That is, until the Yellow Jackets’ coach at the time, Bobby Dodd, found a way to break it.
Curry, now preparing for his fourth year as Georgia State’s football coach, talked about that and other topics Friday at the 23rd annual Cobb County Football Kickoff Luncheon, held at Roswell Street Baptist Church and was co-sponsored by the Marietta Daily Journal and Cobb EMC.
Curry said he knew he was caught skipping when Dodd yanked him out of bed at 5 a.m. one morning and made him run until he could barely walk. Afterwards, Dodd asked him how chemistry class was going.
Needless to say, Curry never skipped chemistry again — or any class for that matter.
“Now that’s discipline,” Curry said after telling his tale. “I wasn’t mature enough at the time to do it myself, and coach decided to do it for me until I decided to get the message.”
A little discipline was what Curry needed at that age.
After learning his lesson, he went on to become a three-year letter-winner as a Georgia Tech center before embarking on a 10-year NFL career that saw him win two Super Bowls with the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Colts.
Now Curry, who turns 70 in October, is going strong as a coach.
After head-coaching stints at Georgia Tech, Alabama and Kentucky — with time as a broadcaster mixed in — Curry became Georgia State’s inaugural coach in 2008, led the Panthers into their first game two years later and is now 9-13 at the helm.
That grueling morning exercise session at Georgia Tech more than 50 years ago helped Curry find his calling as an adult — both as a football coach and family man. As the guest speaker of Friday’s luncheon, he talked for 20 minutes about the pain of discipline versus the pain of regret.
Curry stressed that the pain of discipline is physical and only temporary, like that fateful morning Dodd made him run.
The pain of regret is an emotional decision — such as when coaches abandon family to study film — that could last a lifetime. Curry said after his speech that he would hate to have a conversation with a former player who was about to lose his house to the IRS because he said, “You taught me how to cut corners.”
Curry’s speech made an impact on the county’s high school coaches, who will begin preparations for the 2012 season when practice officially opens Wednesday.
“I’ve heard coach Curry speak at a couple of events, with this being one of them, and he always has an incredible message that leaves you with goose bumps and leaves you with analyzing your life,” Kell coach Derek Cook said. “He helps you focus on what you may have lost sight on, and that’s refreshing, motivating and inspiring.”
Said Whitefield Academy coach Jimmy Fields: “We’re here in July — about to be August. It’s hot. That’s discipline. That’s the reason why everyone isn’t playing football.
During his talk, Curry discussed the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal and said players shouldn’t thrive on hatred and trying to put an end to careers. He was taught as a player to respect opponents.
As a center in the NFL, Curry said he and his fellow linemen played their best when they were up against superior defensive players of his era, including Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Willie Lanier, Chicago Bears linebacker Dick Butkus and Los Angeles Rams lineman Merlin Olson.
“I didn’t have to hate them,” Curry said. “We had to anticipate and know how great they were and why we needed to move after a snap, why I needed to keep my pads down after a snap, why I needed to keep my mouth shut all the time. They were great, great warriors, and they got the best out of us.”
Toward the end of his speech, Curry said it was never too late to change and take another path that doesn’t lead to regret. He wrapped it up by saying both players and coaches should “use the tools that God gave you, and that no other human being has what you have.”
“Football is the only sport where someone with minimal talent can hike the ball before being run over slowly,” Curry said in reference to himself. “Instead, I got to huddle with greatest players of all time — (Hall of Fame quarterbacks) Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas. I was privilege just to look across (the huddle) and see their faces. I can still see their faces.”