How Jamail and Royal became friends

June, 21, 2012
6/21/12
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Together they formed an unusual triumvirate -- Joe Jamail, Willie Nelson and Darrell Royal -- a lawyer, a country singer and a football coach.

On the night after more than five months of testimony had wrapped up in the biggest case of Jamail’s and the Texas court system’s life, there was the football coach knocking on the door, the singer holding the beer. It was also 12 hours before closing arguments were to begin in Pennzoil vs. Texaco.

Texas/Texas A&M 1962
AP PhotoDarrell Royal has maintained his friendship with Joe Jamail for more than 50 years.
The best of friends and always there for the other. Maybe even when they weren’t supposed to be.

A few beers wouldn’t hurt. They never did with these three.

Jamail closed the case with a final argument worth $11.12 billion. He still has a memento from the settlement -- a check for $3 billion in acrylic glass – on a shelf in his office. He also has the photo of Royal and Nelson, from that night, mounted and much bigger than the check on the wall of his office.

That memory was just one of many in Jamail’s relationship with Royal that has spanned more than 50 years. When they first met, it was Royal who needed help.

“(My wife Lee) called and said, ‘I just got a call from Jack Josey.’ He was vice president of the board of regents at the time and a good friend,” Jamail said.

“[Josey] said he wanted to bring Darrell Royal by to meet her. I said, ‘he has got to be kidding you baby.’ Darrell, he hit Texas running and went to the Sugar Bowl his first year.”

Josey was not. Royal wanted to visit, and he had a motive.

“He was recruiting a football player named Bobby Wuensch, who was all-everything,” Jamail said. “And he knew, or somehow found out, that Lee and Bobby Wuensch’s mother Opal went to San Marcos Academy as children together … We were very close friends, but Wuensch’s uncle was dean of men at A&M. So it was going to be a problem for him … That’s how I met Darrell and he left.”

The Jamails later visited the Wuensches and Lee took over as recruiter.

“Lee put it on Opal like a mustard plaster … She said A&M’s just another Boy Scout school,” Joe said of his wife. “He’s not going to make any friends of up there that can help him. [Opal told the Jamails] we don’t have the clothes for Bobby to go over to Texas. Lee looked at her and said, 'Let me worry about that.' ”

With a new suit and an upset Aggie family, Wuensch became a Longhorn. He would eventually become a two-time All-American and captain of the 1970 national championship team.

“We never told Darrell about that,” Jamail said. “He still doesn’t know to this day.”

Carter Strickland | email

Reporter, HornsNation

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