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Pat Sullivan, former Heisman Trophy winner, and Auburn legend, dies at age 69

By Rachel Brooks

Contributor| The Telegraph Local

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Pictured above, an aerial view of Jordan Hare stadium, where Sullivan is immortalized

The life_and now the death_of Pat Sullivan was characterized by headlines and great achievements. On the field and off, he never backed away from the challenge to keep fighting.  Sullivan was a famous football player who played for Alabama. Citing AL.com, Sullivan was the first-ever Alabaman to win the Heisman Trophy_an award presented by NCAA football. This is college football’s most prestigious award.  His style of football was exceptional everywhere. For Auburn University, it was a rare treasure to see his plays. His 1971 trophy win was well deserved. 

The News Courier, Twitter, screen capture remembers Sullivan today. 

His name has been splayed across headlines and now, alas, this one most write his memorial. The legendary player died on Sunday at the age of 69. His passing follows the greatest game he ever played, though few knew of. His fight with cancer that has lasted since 2003. 

It is hard for us to think of a man like Sullivan laying down the fight, passing the game along to other players. He had bestowed upon him said elite award for a final season with the Tigers where he passed 2,262 yards and scored 21 touchdowns, citing USA Today. Also citing USA Today, Sullivan’s career wrapped seeing him close 6,534 passing yards and score 54 touchdowns through the air with another 18 on the ground. 

It’s strange to say that this is an obituary of sorts. Sullivan will live forever. He will live because he lives for us. He lives as a statute outside of Jordan Hare Stadium. He lives in the legends of football’s heroes. More than a collegiate glory-grabber, more than the legendary Auburn quarterback, he rose in the ranks to the NFL. Sullivan was a beloved coach. Citing Fox News, he went on to coach for both TCU and Samford. He carried TCU through the early 90s before taking over for Samford. By then, he had already been a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, inducted in 1981. 

Screencapture of a fan’s Twitter account as he remembers the life of Pat Sullivan 

He was Olympus. Still, he is a mountain in that, the shadow of his death is only a testament to the greatness of his legend. 

Often, a person who lives to be a legend is somewhat mystically enshrined before their time. Wherein the legend is somehow bigger than the person that they were, based on the folktale. That was not the case with Sullivan. He was a man of great character. 247 Sports calls his life a “legacy of leadership and caring. 247 quotes Sullivan’s retirement as taking place in 2014. This means he continued to lead his teams 11 long years into his brave fight against cancer.  

So it was that a man who was famous for his warrior’s heart died in peace at home with his beloved wife Jean at his side. He had loved the same woman for 50-years_ married her when they were teens. Three children and eight grandchildren were there as well. 

The American people are filled with a bittersweet sadness today. In memory of a game-well played, and what a life! What a life! The life of Pat Sullivan. 

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