Pat Trammell

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Pat Trammell
No. 12
Pat Trammell.jpg
Date of birth: (1940-07-11)July 11, 1940
Place of birth: Scottsboro, Alabama
Date of death: December 10, 1968(1968-12-10) (aged 28)
Place of death: Birmingham, Alabama
Career information
Position(s): Quarterback
Height: 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight: 200 lb (91 kg)
College: University of Alabama
High school: Scottsboro High School
Organizations

Patrick Lee Trammell (July 11, 1940 – December 10, 1968) was an All-American quarterback for the University of Alabama from 1958 until 1961. In his senior year, he led the Crimson Tide to a perfect season of 11-0-0 and Alabama subsequently won the NCAA National Championship for 1961. On December 10, 1968, he died from metastatic testicular cancer at age 28, shortly after earning his M.D. degree.

Early life[edit]

Pat Trammell was born in Scottsboro, Alabama as the middle son of a prominent local physician, Dr. Edward Lee Trammell. He quickly excelled both in academics and athletics. He was the starting quarterback in Varsity Football at Scottsboro High School where he earned All-County, All-State, All-Southern and All-American honors during his four year prep career. He was also named most valuable basketball player in state of Alabama as a high school senior.[1]

Playing career[edit]

His football career at Alabama began just prior to Paul "Bear" Bryant's announcement that he planned to return to his alma mater to take over as head coach of the ailing football program. Trammell's family recalls a personal visit at the time and an embellished 'pep talk' from Coach Bryant saying that, "if you'll commit to Alabama, then I'll come back to Alabama." Trammell had actually planned to attend Georgia Tech, after being heavily recruited by head coach Bobby Dodd but at this point, made a career altering decision that would change the rest of his life.[2]

Bryant's influence would once again bring the program into the national spotlight and Trammell was his first star player. As a sophomore, in 1959, Trammell led Alabama in total offense and then led in total scoring in the 1960 season, including a win against the Fran Tarkenton-led Georgia Bulldogs. Coach Bryant had promised the team in 1958 that they would win a national championship within four years, if they could 'stick it out', as told by team-mates Billy Neighbors, Bill Oliver and Mal Moore. After being named SEC champions in 1960, his bold prediction soon would become mysteriously true. The following year, Trammell would lead the team to a perfect season and ultimately to a NCAA National Championship for 1961 (AP, UPI, NFF - unanimous), which was the first in 16 years for Alabama.[3]

On December 5, 1961, at the National Football Foundation's reception in the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, with President John F. Kennedy, Coach Bryant and Pat Trammell together proudly accepted the MacArthur Trophy on national television in recognition of Alabama's perfect season and championship. The black tie event was hosted by Bob Hope and was attended by General Douglas MacArthur, Vince Lombardi, head coach of the Green Bay Packers (under whom, ironically, at the time was NFL quarterback great and Alabama Alumni Bart Starr who subsequently led the Packers to a 1961 NFL Championship), Sidney L. James, the founding editor and publisher of Sports Illustrated and dozens of other College Football Hall of Fame Inductees.[citation needed] (Of interest, a similar semi-fictional scene was digitally remastered in Winston Groom's film, Forrest Gump, in 1994, with President John F. Kennedy digitally morphed into the set with Tom Hanks, who played Forrest Gump, a celebrated (fictional) Alabama football player, who had accepted a handshake from the President and was asked "how does it feel to be an All-American?". Winston Groom had been a freshman at the University of Alabama in 1961 during this time period.)[4]

After realizing Bryant's prophecy from 1958 in the undefeated 11-0-0 Championship season of 1961, and after winning the Sugar Bowl, the National Championship and the MacArthur Bowl Trophy, multiple awards and recognitions followed suit (the following is a partial list). Pat Trammell was selected NCAA Academic All-American, was named the 1961 SEC Most Valuable Player, All-SEC (First Team) Back of 1961 season (AP, UPI) and All-SEC Academic Selection. He was voted as the 1961 Collegiate Player of the year by the Touchdown Club of Atlanta. He was chosen as the 1961 Most Valuable Back by the Birmingham Monday Morning Quarterback Club. He was chosen to receive the Most Valuable Player Award for 1961 by the Nashville Banner. He was 5th runner up in the vote for the Heisman Trophy. Although the Birmingham Touchdown Club SEC player of the year award did not begin until 1979, he has been publicly honored and recognized by this organization on multiple occasions. By becoming the permanent 1961 team Captain, Pat Trammell had his hand prints and cleat-prints stamped into the Walk of Fame in 1961 as "most outstanding player" on the ingress of Denny Chimes on the Quad at the University. This was the last time that this designation was ever made.[5]

Vince Lombardi would pressure Coach Bryant to persuade Pat to come to play for him with the Green Bay Packers after graduation. Coach Bryant responded that "Pat is too smart to play professional football ... he will go on to medical school to fulfill his personal goals." Pat had majored in Physical Chemistry in the department of Chemical Engineering and graduated summa cum laude in the top of his class.[citation needed]

Teammate Billy Neighbors (’59-’61) would later say that Pat Trammell was the "smartest and best football player I'd ever played with .... period. And I played with some great players, like Bob Griese and Babe Parilli. Pat Trammell was still the smartest football player .....it was just the way he ran the team, the offense."[citation needed]

Incoming quarterback, Joe Namath ('61-'64), was heavily influenced by Pat Trammell during their overlapping season of 1961. "Pat's leadership was exemplified by his toughness," said Namath. "He was a demanding mentor and certainly made me a better quarterback. I miss that smile of his."[citation needed]

In one poll, the 1961 University of Alabama football team was voted as "the Best All-Time SEC football team" to ever play for the SEC,[6] and, in another, the third best college football team of all time.[7] To have turned around a decade of losing streaks from scratch and collectively outscore their opponents 297 to 25, Coach Bryant and this team have been thought to have pioneered the revolutionary turning point for the modern day University of Alabama football championship dynasty.[6] Coach Bryant would go on to win the National Coach of the Year Award for 1961, which was his first of three, as well as his first of six NCAA Division I FBS (I-A) National Championships, all of which are more than any other college football coach in history.[8] Coach Bryant would ultimately be thought of as the 'greatest college football coach of all times.'[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]

Career Statistics[edit]

Trammell set multiple records during his career at Alabama, mostly during his senior season. 1,314 total yards with 1,035 passing yards was, at the time, a school record. At the conclusion of his final season, he would hold the record as the winningest quarterback in the entire Crimson Tide history, compiling a 26–2–4 record for a 0.875 winning percentage as a starter. This record stood 33 years until it was broken by Jay Barker in 1994, with a 35–2–1 record for a 0.934 winning percentage.[3] Jay Barker would be later awarded the prestigious Pat Trammell Award.[citation needed]

Currently, Trammell still holds two records at the University. Having thrown only two interceptions in 1960 from 133 passes is currently the lowest interception percentage at just 1.5%, setting the single season record. He also holds the career record for lowest interception percentage, throwing only four in 225 passes (1.8%).[3]

Season Passing Rushing
Att–Comp Yards Pct. TD Int Att Yards Avg TD
1959 21–49 293 42.9 1 1 156 525 3.4 2
1960 21–43 303 48.8 0 1 76 315 4.1 4
1961 75–133 1,035 56.4 8 2 75 279 3.7 9
Total 117–225 1,631 52.0 9 4 307 1,119 3.6 15

Death[edit]

Trammell died of metastatic testicular cancer on December 10, 1968 at the age of 28 — only two years after earning his M.D. degree from the Medical College of Alabama, now known as the University of Alabama School of Medicine. He was completing a residency in Dermatology and planned to continue practicing medicine as a third generation doctor. He left behind a wife and two young children.[citation needed]

Thousands attended his funeral. Auburn University's Head Coach Ralph "Shug" Jordan put rivalry aside to attend the service. Condolences came in from around the state and country, including personal letters and telegrams from Governor George Wallace, Governor Albert Brewer, Governor Jim Folsom, Congressman Robert E. Jones, Jr., Congressman Ben Cherner and incoming US President Richard Nixon. A resolution from the Alabama State House of Representatives was written into law on April 1, 1969 acknowledging the loss and its impact on the State of Alabama.

The following is an excerpt from the eulogy at his funeral spoken by Dr. Frank Rose:

"Pat lifted us to great heights on the football field, but perhaps his greatest moment of all came at the Football Hall of Fame dinner where we were receiving the highest honor, the MacArthur Bowl [trophy]. There were about 2,000 people attending the banquet, including President Kennedy, and General MacArthur himself. The crowd didn't bother Pat. Most young men would have been intimidated. He casually walked up to the microphone in front of this huge crowd and told everyone there he was very appreciative of what everyone had done for him, coach Bryant and the University.[citation needed]

Following that, President Kennedy came to my room at the hotel and personally sought out Pat. I never saw the President after that, before his death, that he didn't want to know about 'that fine young man, Pat.'

He had character and intelligence. He lived a full life. He thrilled people from all walks of life. He was able to share more moments of happiness than most men who live one hundred years. His achievements will be as dear to my memory as all the football games we'll ever win and all the expansion we'll have in the future. But all this is part of the making of a great institution like the University of Alabama....the life and story of Pat Trammell."

- Dr. Frank Rose, President, University of Alabama, December 11, 1968.

[citation needed]

Afterward, with tears streaming down his face, tough, tenacious Paul "Bear" Bryant escorted Pat's mother out of the standing room only church in Scottsboro. This is reported to be the only time that Coach Bryant had ever been seen weeping in public.[citation needed]

In Bryant's autobiography The Bear, he stated that the day Pat died was "the saddest day of my life."[citation needed]

After Coach Bryant celebrated his 300th college football victory, in 1980, a reprint of an interview by author Clyde Bolton was published in the The Birmingham News when he was reflecting back on his success as a football coach, leader and mentor. During this interview he was put on the spot and asked indirectly if he had a 'favorite player.' Coach Bryant named off a number of players that he thought highly of during the previous 22 years at Alabama and during his 30 year coaching career. He took a pause at that point and said, "[now] You'll have to forgive me here for getting sentimental." [sic] He then responded in turn with a direct and deliberate answer to the question, as was quoted in the October 6 edition, " .... Pat Trammell was [not just my favorite player, but] the favorite person...... of my entire life."[citation needed]

Legacy[edit]

The legacy of Pat Trammell has lived on since his death. His eventual influence and impact would only be later acknowledged in sports history books, many non-fiction books, documentaries, news articles and movies (one being The Bear , starring Gary Busey as Bear Bryant and Jon-Erik Hexum playing Trammell).

In 1968, Trammell was elected as Alumni President of the University of Alabama letterman's A-Club, but would never serve due to his death.[19]

Three weeks after his death, in late December, 1968, the Alabama A-Club Educational and Charitable Foundation was set in motion by teammates Tommy Brooker, James A. Sharpe, Joseph K. Sims, and Billy Neighbors. Coach Bryant and his teammates recognized the need for a charitable program that would lend support to the families and children of former University of Alabama football players in times of need. An initial contribution of $1,000,000 in 1973 (over $5,000,000 in today's dollars) was established by Coach Bryant with Trammell's family and children in mind. The Foundation has evolved into a world class charitable support system for the University of Alabama Department of Athletics that lives on today.[20]

In 1971, after the completion of the new football stadium in Trammell's hometown, it was named and dedicated as Trammell Stadium.[1]

In 1975, Trammell was posthumously inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.[21]

In 2009, the theatrical performance of Bear Country[22][23] starring Rodney Clark as Coach Bryant, drew unexpected popularity. During the true to life play, Coach Bryant is approaching retirement and reflects back over his life and career. Recent interest has been drawn, that, of the hundreds of players that he had coached and known so well over 45 years, he would only mention one by name. A dramatic and emotional scene in the play about his inner regard for Trammell ensued. It has been said that losing Pat ended up being so emotionally devastating for Coach Bryant that it was as if he had lost his own son.[citation needed]

On November 1, 2014, Pat Trammell was inducted into the Jackson County Sports Hall Fame as an inaugural member.[2][24]

Beginning in 2008, a Sports Medicine Fellowship and Chair in recognition of Dr. Pat Trammell have been endowed at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, Tuscaloosa Campus, between the College of Community Health Sciences and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.[25] As described by the University of Alabama Athletic Director Emeritus, Mal Moore, the Dr. Patrick Lee Trammell, Sr., Excellence in Sports Medicine Program promotes specialized Sports Medicine education, on-the-field 'hands-on' training, and practical experience for future Sports Medicine Team Physicians.[26] The first resident physician was awarded the fellowship and entered the program in June 2010.[27]

Recipients of the endowed Dr. Patrick Lee Trammell, Sr., Sports Medicine Fellowship[edit]

  • 2010 - Dr. Ray Stewart
  • 2011 - Dr. Eric Law
  • 2012 - Dr. Zach Boylan and Dr. Brent Smith
  • 2013 - Dr. Scott Boyken
  • 2014 - Dr. Blake Perry and Dr. Jeremy Latron Coleman

Pat Trammell Award[edit]

The Pat Trammell Award is presented by the Alumni Association and Department of Athletics to an outstanding Alabama football player who demonstrates the merit, leadership and character that are representative of Trammell himself. The following is the partial list of recipients:

  • 1988 - David Smith
  • 1989 - John Mangum
  • 1990 - Roger Shultz
  • 1991 - Kevin Turner
  • 1992 - George Wilson
  • 1993 - Tobie Sheils
  • 1994 - Jay Barker
  • 1995 - John Walters
  • 1996 - John Causey
  • 1997 - Curtis Alexander
  • 1998 - John David Phillips
  • 1999 - Shaun Alexander
  • 2000 - Paul Hogan
  • 2001 - Andrew Zow
  • 2002 - Sam Collins
  • 2004 - Antonio Carter[28]
  • 2005 - Matt Miller[29]
  • 2006 - Tim Castille[30]
  • 2007 - Keith Saunders and Matt Caddell[31]
  • 2008 - Bobby Greenwood and Travis McCall[32]
  • 2009 - Drew Davis and Cory Reamer[33]
  • 2010 - Preston Dial and David Ross[34]
  • 2011 - Alex Watkins and Alfred McCullough[35]
  • 2012 - Michael Williams and Nico Johnson[36]
  • 2013 - Deion Belue and Kellen Williams[37]
  • 2014 - Brian Vogler and Brandon Ivory[38]

References[edit]