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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Lone Heisman Hero

Paul “Bear” Bryant, the winningest coach in college football history, won six national championships and coached hundreds of players in his 37-year career. Only one of those players, however, has a Heisman trophy.
Former Texas A&M halfback John David Crow, who played for the Aggies under Bryant from 1955 to 1957, won the Heisman, college football’s most valuable player award, in 1957.
“If he doesn’t get the Heisman, they ought to quit giving it,” said Bryant shortly before Crow was awarded college football’s highest honor.
The compliment from Bryant, a well- respected coach even before his success at Alabama, set in the minds of college football voters across the country.
“He never really gave many people a compliment,” Crow said. “He called everybody by their last name, and one time he referred to me as John David.”
The remark was made in front of a Washington Post reporter, and the reporter told readers that Bryant, “had not only called him by his first name, but his first two names.”
“That was a compliment. That comment hit the wire, and it was all over the country.”
Bryant’s remark all but shored up the Heisman voting. Crow won by just under 500 votes.
Bryant moved on to Alabama after Crow’s final season, where he became the most successful college football coach ever.
“He was a more up-and-coming coach at that time — more than the legend that he became when he went on to Alabama,” Crow said. “I don’t know whether we won here at A&M when I was here for the sheer joy of winning, or for the fear of losing.”
Crow came to A&M after growing up in Springhill, La., where he was a prep All-American and also played basketball and track.
“I came down here, basically, because of an assistant coach,” Crow said. “Being here for a while, I found out what a special place Texas A&M is. It hasn’t veered one bit. It still has that feel of the friendliness, closeness and pride. It is amazing to me.”
Crow was an all-around player during his time with the Aggies, playing halfback on offense and linebacker of the defensive side of the ball.
Crow also commented that the difference in today’s game and his playing days is that players are much quicker, faster and stronger because of the diets, training and quickness drills that players go through today.
“That makes it a much quicker game,” Crow said. “We couldn’t come off the field because we couldn’t go back in until the change of the quarter. It was a hard game in those days.”
Crow lead the Aggies to a No. 1 ranking in 1957, after the Aggies went a perfect 8-0 before losing their last three games of the season by a combined six points and falling to No. 9 in the Associated Press poll.
Along with winning the Heisman, Crow was All-Conference in 1956 and 1957, and also was a consensus All-American as a senior.
After serving as co-captain his final season on the Aggie squad, Crow was taken in the first round of the 1958 NFL draft by the Chicago Cardinals. Crow played with the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers, and mounted two 1,000-yard rushing seasons during his NFL career. He also was selected to the NFL Pro Bowl team four times and also served as an assistant coach with the Cleveland Browns and San Diego Chargers.
Crow served as the athletic director at A&M for the last four and a half years after coming back to serve as associate athletic director in 1983. Crow stepped down from the athletic director position to pursue his other business endeavors, including one with Bryant’s son, Paul Jr.
Until his retirement in June of this year, Crow served as the athletic department’s director of development. Now Crow enjoys playing golf, traveling and serving on the board of major corporations in Nevada, Alabama and Texas.

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