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The Battalion

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

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Remembering John David Crow

John+David+Crow
Vanessa Peña
John David Crow

John David Crow was not only an Aggie football hero, but he was the face of Texas A&M. Over the years, he left his mark on the university, and his death Wednesday night at age 79 is a huge loss for the Aggie community.

Crow grew up in Springhill, Louisiana, and came to Texas A&M as a freshman the year A&M hired new head football coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant. Though not a part of the “Junction Boys,” he was a centerpiece of the program’s future.

As a player under the legendary coach Bryant, Crow was part of the 1956 team who won the Southwest Conference title for the first time since 1941, and was a two way warrior on the gridiron, especially in his Heisman-winning senior season. Crow rushed for 562 yards, tossed five touchdown passes, and added five interceptions on the defensive side of the ball, prompting Bryant to famously say, “They ought to do away with the thing,” if Crow was not awarded college football’s highest individual honor.

Bryant’s message was received clearly, as Crow was awarded the trophy in 1957, becoming A&M’s first and only Heisman winner until Johnny Manziel in 2012.

Crow was Bryant’s only Heisman trophy winning player in his entire coaching career.

After his senior season, Crow was selected in the first round of the 1958 NFL Draft by the Chicago Cardinals. During an illustrious career, Crow rushed for 4,963 yards and 38 total touchdowns, and earned his way to four Pro Bowl selections.

In the years following his time at A&M, Crow was the face of the program as the Aggies entered the darker stages of the program’s history in the 1960s and 1970s. After becoming an assistant coach under his former head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant at the University of Alabama from 1969 to 1971, Crow had brief stints in the NFL as an assistant and coordinator with the Cleveland Browns and San Diego Chargers.

The Louisiana native finally would return to his home state in 1975, becoming the head coach and athletic director at Northwest Louisiana – now Louisiana-Monroe. After coaching for five years, and being the athletic director until 1981, Crow returned to Aggieland for the final time in 1983.

Under head coach and athletic director Jackie Sherrill, Crow became the assistant athletic director until 1988 when Sherrill was forced out of the program due to NCAA violations. From 1988, Crow served as the head athletic director at A&M, resigning in 1993. After his service as the athletic director, he raised funds for the school until his retirement in 2001.

He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1976 as a player, and was also elected to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in the same year. In 2004, Crow received the Doak Walker Legends Award in a ceremony at SMU, an award which is given to players who not only had excellent playing careers, but who also became leaders in their communities.

Crow devoted his life to the school he loved.

“Coming back to A&M and eventually serving as athletic director – that’s the ultimate for any athlete who played at a college,” Crow once said. “Hopefully, I’ll always be a part of Texas A&M. I’ve been fortunate to have never really had to divorce myself from football.”
On Tuesday, A&M will pay their final respects to a man beloved by Aggies everywhere. The Texas A&M Athletics Department and Letterman’s Association will host a celebration of Crow’s life and his dedication to the school he loved. The celebration will begin at 2 p.m. inside Reed Arena on the A&M campus.

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  • John David Crow

  • John David Crow

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  • John David Crow

    Courtesy
  • John David Crow

    Vanessa Peña
  • Portrait of 1957 Heisman Trophy winner Texas A&M running back John David Crow (left) and then Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, when he was a Heisman finalist on Dec. 4, 2012 at Kyle Field. Manziel joined Crow in A&M’s Heisman fraternity a few days later. Crow died on Wednesday. He was 79.

    Edward A. Ornelas / San Antonio Express-News
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