John David Crow

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John David Crow
John David Crow in 2012.jpg
Crow in 2012 at Kyle Field
No. 44
Position: Halfback
Personal information
Date of birth: (1935-07-08)July 8, 1935
Place of birth: Marion, Louisiana
Date of death: June 17, 2015(2015-06-17) (aged 79)
Place of death: Bryan, Texas
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight: 220 lb (100 kg)
Career information
College: Texas A&M
NFL draft: 1958 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2
Career history
As player:
As coach:
As administrator:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards: 4,963
Touchdowns: 38
Stats at
Stats at

John David Crow, Sr. (July 8, 1935 – June 17, 2015), was an American football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He won the Heisman Trophy as a halfback for the Texas A&M Aggies football team of Texas A&M University in 1957. After college, he played professional football in the National Football League (NFL) for the Chicago and St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers between 1958 and 1968. Crow received the annual Len Eshmont Award twice, in 1966 and 1967. The award is voted by the players and given to the 49er who best exemplifies the "inspirational and courageous play" of Len Eshmont.

After his playing career, Crow became an assistant football coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide football team of the University of Alabama, serving under coach Bear Bryant from 1969 to 1971. He moved to the NFL as an assistant with the Cleveland Browns in 1972, and then the San Diego Chargers in 1974. In December 1975, Crow was hired as head football coach and athletic director at Northeast Louisiana University—now the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He coached the football team for five seasons, from 1976 to 1980, compiling a record of 20–34–1. He remained as athletic director until 1981. Crow returned to his alma mater, Texas A&M, in 1983 as an assistant athletic director. He was promoted to athletic director in 1988 and served in that capacity until 1993.

Crow was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1976. A street on the campus of Texas A&M University adjacent to Kyle Field is named after him.

Early life[edit]

A native of Marion in Union Parish in North Louisiana, Crow was reared to the west in Springhill in northern Webster Parish near the Arkansas state line. He graduated in 1954 from Springhill High School.

College career[edit]

Under coach Paul "Bear" Bryant at Texas A&M, Crow was not one of the "Junction Boys", since he was a freshman in 1954, Bryant's first season, and was thus ineligible to play under NCAA rules at the time. In 1956, Crow was part of the first Aggie football team to beat the University of Texas at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.[1]

In the 1957 season, the Aggies won their first eight games and were ranked Number 1 in the AP Poll.[2] The team lost their last three games after uncertainty over whether their coach, Bear Bryant, would be leaving the school.[3] Although injured early in the season, Crow was able to play in 7 games in his senior season. He rushed for 562 yards on 129 carries, with 6 touchdowns. Crow also caught 2 passes and passed for 5 touchdowns. While playing on defense, he intercepted the ball 5 times.[4] During the 1957 season, Bryant famously quipped, “If John David Crow doesn’t win the Heisman Trophy, they ought to stop giving it.”.[5]

Crow was named a scholastic All-American[4] and won the Heisman on December 3, 1957,[6] defeating Iowa tackle Alex Karras.[3] Crow claims not to have understood the importance of the award until sponsors flew him and his family to New York for the presentation.[7] He was the first Aggie to win the Heisman, and he was the only one of Bryant's players to win.[3][8] Bryant then left for Alabama shortly after Crow received the Heisman.[9]

Pro career[edit]

In the 1958 NFL Draft, Crow was a first–round draft pick for the Chicago Cardinals. He played 11 seasons and appeared in 4 Pro Bowls.[7][9] He later played for the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers.[7][10]

He completed more passes than any other non-quarterback in history with 33 completions, including five touchdowns.[11]

Coaching career[edit]

When his playing career ended, Crow became a coach. In 1969, he was named the offensive backfield coach under Bryant at Alabama, a position he retained until 1971.[4] He was personally close to Bryant, under whom Crow's late son, John David "Johnny" Crow, Jr., played at Alabama.[12]

He later worked as an assistant coach with the Cleveland Browns and the San Diego Chargers.[10]

Northeast Louisiana[edit]

Crow was the sixth head football coach for Northeast Louisiana University—now the University of Louisiana at Monroe—and he held that position for five seasons, from 1976 until 1980. His coaching record at Northeast Louisiana was 20–34–1.[13]

Athletic director[edit]

Crow became the athletic director and head football coach at Northeast Louisiana University (now the University of Louisiana at Monroe) in 1975.[4] He remained there until 1981, when he left to pursue private business opportunities.[14]

In 1983, he became assistant athletic director at Texas A&M under Jackie Sherrill, who served as both athletic director and head coach of the football team. Crow handled most duties for all sports except football, which Sherrill oversaw.[14] He was promoted to athletic director at the end of the 1988 football season when Sherrill, resigned in the midst of a scandal. Texas A&M President William Mobley hired R. C. Slocum, Sherrill's defensive coordinator, as the new head football coach.[15] In a press conference the day after his appointment, Crow announced that "'I want to reaffirm my commitment to full compliance with the NCAA, Southwest Conference and Texas A&M University regulations in our athletic department.'"[16]

After a public row in January 1990, Crow fired long-time Aggies basketball coach Shelby Metcalf, who had coached at Texas A&M for 32 years, with five Southwest Conference championships. The relationship between the men had often been described as bitter, and Crow cited "uncalled-for criticism" in his firing of Metcalf, who was not given the opportunity to say goodbye to his players. Crow appointed Kermit Davis to replace Metcalf.[17]

Later that year, after Arkansas left the Southwest Conference, Crow and DeLoss Dodds, the athletic director at the University of Texas, met with officials from the Pac-10 Conference about aligning with that conference. The two later cancelled a similar meeting with officials from the Southeastern Conference.[18]

Crow resigned from his position as athletic director in April 1993 to invest as a limited partner in a greyhound racetrack. At the time of his resignation, the Texas A&M football program was embroiled in a scandal over students accepting money from boosters for jobs they had not performed. He was succeeded as athletic director by Wally Groff. As a result of the scandal, the Texas A&M football program was placed on five years probation and was banned from television or postseason appearances for one year.[19] He then took a job as the fundraiser for the university until 2001, when he retired.[3]

Awards and later life[edit]

Crow was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1976.[4] In 2004, Crow was awarded the PriceWaterhouseCoopers Doak Walker Legends Award, presented annually by the SMU Athletic Forum. The award is given to former college football running backs who had excellent college careers and later became leaders in their community.[10] In 1976, he was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in Natchitoches.

Crow retired in College Station, Texas.[3] In an interview with the Bryan-College Station Eagle, Crow said, "I tell everybody that A&M is my true love and that I want us to win everything that we do, but Alabama is a close second because of the ties I had with Coach Bryant, and with my son playing over there.[12]

He died at a hospice in Bryan, Texas, on June 17, 2015; he was 79 years old, three weeks shy of his 80th birthday.[20] In addition to their son, Crow and his high school sweetheart and wife of more than sixty years, the former Carolyn Gilliam, have two surviving daughters, Annalisa Stenklyft and husband, Jay, and Jeannie Pietrowiak and husband, Ken; daughter-in-law, Janice Crow, and seven grandchildren.[21] He was cremated. A public reception was held in his memory on June 23 at Reed Arena in College Station.[22]

Head coaching record[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Northeast Louisiana Indians (NCAA Division I / I-A independent) (1976–1980)
1976 Northeast Louisiana 2–9
1977 Northeast Louisiana 2–9
1978 Northeast Louisiana 6–4–1
1979 Northeast Louisiana 3–8
1980 Northeast Louisiana 7–4
Northeast Louisiana: 20–34–1
Total: 20–34–1


  1. ^ Feigen, Jonathan (August 29, 1993), "Football '93/A state of war/UT—A&M transcends football", Houston Chronicle (Houston, Texas: Houston Chronicle): Special, page 25., retrieved 2007-09-26 
  2. ^ Carter, Al (March 25, 1989), "Ags rising above hardball humility", Houston Chronicle (Houston, Texas: Houston Chronicle): Sports, page 1, retrieved 2007-09-27 
  3. ^ a b c d e Zwenerman, Brent (August 25, 2007), "College football: Heisman honed by history", San Antonio Express–News (San Antonio, Texas), retrieved 2007-09-25 
  4. ^ a b c d e 1957–23rd Award: John David Crow Texas A&M Back,, retrieved 2011-05-11 
  5. ^ "John David Crow, Heisman Winner at Texas A&M, Dies at 79". The New York Times. June 18, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Prep basketball, NFL, college football, CCHA". 
  7. ^ a b c Carter, Al (December 1, 1989), "Sports Spotlight: The Heisman race/Trophy winner's life altered/Campbell: It changes your name", Houston Chronicle (Houston, Texas: Houston Chronicle): Sports, Page 1, retrieved 2007-09-26 
  8. ^ "People", Houston Chronicle (Houston, Texas: Houston Chronicle), November 17, 1987: Sports, page 3, retrieved 2007-09-26 
  9. ^ a b Zwerneman, Brent (August 30, 2007), "Aggies Mailbag:Crow and Law — same story, 50 years apart", San Antonio Express–News (San Antonio, Texas), retrieved 2007-09-25 
  10. ^ a b c "John David Crow Named 2004 PriceWaterhouseCoopers Doak Walker Legends Award Recipient" (Press release). SMU Athletic Forum. September 21, 2004. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  11. ^ "Non-Quarterback Passing Records". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  12. ^ a b "Caitlin Perrone, John David Crow has good reason to cheer on both A&M and Alabama this Saturday, September 11, 2013". Bryan-College Station Eagle. Retrieved September 11, 2013. 
  13. ^ Hunsucker, Adam (June 18, 2015). "ULM community remembers John David Crow". The News-Star (Monroe). Archived from the original on July 15, 2015. Retrieved June 19, 2015. 
  14. ^ a b Custred, Jayne (December 14, 1988), "Sherrill aftermath/Crow: Mixed feelings on Sherrill departure", Houston Chronicle (Houston, Texas: Houston Chronicle): Sports, page 6, retrieved 2007-09-26 
  15. ^ Custred, Jayne; Farmer, Neal (December 13, 1988), "Aggie coach Sherrill quits amid scandal", Houston Chronicle (Houston, Texas: Houston Chronicle): Section A, page 1, retrieved 2007-09-26 
  16. ^ "2 vow to revive A&M integrity", Houston Chronicle (Houston, Texas: Houston Chronicle), December 14, 1988: Section A, page 1, retrieved 2007-09-26 
  17. ^ Lopez, John P. (March 2, 1991), "Ex-A&M coac Metcalf adjusts to new job, life", Houston Chronicle (Houston, Texas: Houston Chronicle): Sports, page 6, retrieved 2007-09-26 
  18. ^ "UT, Texas A&M officials cancel meeting on SEC expansion plan", Houston Chronicle (Houston, Texas: Houston Chronicle), August 19, 1990: Sports, page 4, retrieved 2007-09-26 
  19. ^ Stickney, W.H., Jr. (January 6, 1994), "Chronology of events in Texas A&M probation", Houston Chronicle (Houston, Texas: Houston Chronicle): Sports, page 2., retrieved 2007-09-26 
  20. ^ Brent Zwerneman, "Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner John David Crow dies at 79," Houston Chronicle (June 18, 2015). Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  21. ^ "Crow, John David". Bryan-College Station Eagle. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  22. ^ "Crow, John David". Bryan-College Station Eagle. Retrieved June 21, 2015. 

External links[edit]