Today, Albert Means will watch his young high school boys engage in play during physical education at White Station High School in Memphis, Tennessee, his hometown. He may wonder how his life might be different if he was that age again, but could take his wisdom back with him.
He is their P.E. teacher. Means was poised to be a college football star with sure professional future ahead of him. Yes, as a high school student, his future was as bright as the sun.
But it got eclipsed by greed. Some say the greed came from his former high school coach, Lynn Lange, who knew he had a sure-fire top defensive lineman in America in his pocket. And Lange knew that this was a prize he could shop around to supplement the low income of a high school coach.
He knew this might be only chance at the big money, and at trial it was testified that Kentucky was asked to pay $6,000 for a simple visit, and that Georgia and Alabama paid as much as $4,000 just for a visit—the the money being secretly paid by boosters.
Lange knew all the big boosters of almost all the big SEC schools. While he knew the schools themselves would have him arrested for daring to shop a player around, he figured to zero in on the big-buck boosters and extort the big money from them for Means' signing.
Enter Logan Young, a man with far too much money and time on his hands who wanted to build a case to make himself the most important man with his beloved Crimson Tide by secretly delivering players like Means to the Tide.
Means has recently broke his silence and claims innocence of any wrongdoing and of ever knowing that anything like that had gone on.
Others testified Means not only was aware of the plan, but was also paid $30,000 for his part in the plan by his high school coach out of the coach's $200,000 bribe.
For years, Means would not confirm or deny that charge, until just recently in an interview with local television station WREG, in Memphis.
What he did admit to knowing, however, was that his coach obviously wanted to protect his investment and Means knew that Lang had another student take his ACT test for him.
Ironically, it was something that Lang didn't have to do. Means ended up being a good student and even earned his Master's Degree. Just one more example of cheating that didn't have to happen, but following his leaving Alabama, Means became withdrawn and had one bad year of grades and let his weight go as a result of the depression.
"I didn't have a clue. I was just a guy playing football, running and ripping and trying to make something happen. I'm in Alabama then boom! The NCAA wants to talk with you. About what?" Means said. "Then all of this stuff came out and do you know who? I never met this person (Logan Young). That's how I am. I can't believe this. So what am I supposed to do now?
"So that's how it was when all of this came out when I first heard about it. All of this stuff was going on. I was kept in the dark because I didn't know," Means concluded.
And he was gone from Alabama. The Tide released him.
He went to Memphis to play, but was out of shape and had injuries and never fulfilled the promise he could have.
What Means did or didn't know was not important to the NCAA—they just wanted Young and wanted him bad. It had been reported that he had been skirting NCAA law for three decades, but this was nothing new to the NCAA, which said that every school had boosters doing such things, but few bragged about doing it and getting away with it.
The coach that initiated the whole "pay for play" scheme never served a day for his part. He plead guilty to taking $150,000 from Young, (though sources said the figure was $200,000) and testified against Young in a plea deal to avoid serving any time.
However, the NCAA missed the target as Young died of an accident while appealing his case. He never served one day in jail.
At trial, it was determined the head coach Mike Dubose knew nothing of the pay for play scandal and though the NCAA determined that the school and coaching staff was not guilty of wrong doing, Young's status as a booster was the same as a staff member.
It was not determined beyond doubt what Means himself knew.
So even though the player and Alabama staff did nothing wrong, the school only narrowly avoided the death penalty for a rouge booster's actions. Alabama paid the stiffest of penalties.
Lang got probation and his assistant coach Kirk (who was in on the deal) got probation. Young died before ever being sentenced and Means went to Memphis. None of the real players in this saga ever paid a price, except for Means, who never recovered his form.
Today, Means likes to talk to young high school athletes about the dangers involved with recruiting and the things as he went through.
Though his NFL plans never materialized or even his college stardom, Means seems at peace these days being married and coaching high school football in addition to his P.E. duties.