The subject of this article:
Paul "Bear" Bryant was the coach of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide from 1958-1982. His role is different in the Forrest Gump film and novel.
In the novel
In the novel, Bryant appears in Forrest's high school to consider him as a player for the Crimson Tide. Being told Forrest is "not the brightest person", a test is given to Forrest. His scores are very disappointed and Bryant initially seems to pass over Forrest for the team.
Later, however, Bryant arranges for a scholarship for Forrest to the University so that he can play football, and arrangements are made so that the simpleminded Forrest can pass his needed classes.
In the film
In the film, Bryant procures a scholarship for Forrest to attend the school to play football after seeing his amazing running ability as Forrest flees bullies who are driving a truck. The only test described is administered near the beginning of the film, and discussed by Mr. Hancock.
Sonny Shroyer played Bear Bryant. Along with Elvis Presley, he seems to be the only character representing a real person portrayed by someone other than the real person.