Wiedmer: Bobby Bowden never wanted football to define him

In this Jan. 1, 2010, file photo, Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden is carried on the shoulders of his players after their 33-21 win over West Virginia in the Gator Bowl NCAA college football game in Jacksonville, Fla. Bowden, the folksy Hall of Fame coach who built Florida State into an unprecedented college football dynasty, has died. He was 91. Bobby's son, Terry, confirmed to The Associated Press that his father died at home in Tallahassee, Fla., surrounded by family early Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021. (Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP, File)

It was early August, 1998. The air hanging over the Florida State football practice field was hot and heavy as the time neared 9 p.m. Weary of the usual football questions about who was running third team at defensive tackle or how his field goal kicker was connecting from 43 yards out, Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden had a question of his own for the assembled media.

"Any of y'all seen Saving Private Ryan yet?" he asked of the movie that had been released less than three weeks earlier. "You need to. Probably the most realistic war movie ever. We're taking the team to see it tomorrow night."

This was the Bobby Bowden the whole world should have come to know before he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on Sunday morning at the age of 91.

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