Birmingham Legends

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LEGENDS OF BIRMINGHAM

Legend 1

2006: Pat Sullivan

Pat Sullivan, a 1972 graduate of Auburn, was a three-year starter at quarterback for the Tigers (1999-71). In addition to winning and 1971 Heisman Trophy, he was named an All-American and the SEC Player of the Year in 1970 and 1971. He helped lead Auburn to three post-season bowl appearances, and was named the MVP of the 1970 Gator Bowl and the 1971 Sugar Bowl. Following his senior season, Sullivan was named the MVP of the 1972 Senior Bowl, and he played in the College All- Star Classic, taking on the Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys. Sullivan played professional football for five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins, and the San Francisco 49ers. 

Sullivan is a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame, and the College Football Hall of Fame. He coached at Texas Christian University, University of Alabama, Birmingham, and currently serves as the head coach at Samford University. Sullivan and his wife, Jean, have three children, daughter Kim, and twins Kelly and Patrick. The couple also has six grandchildren, Alex, Jay, Mallory, Joseph. Taylor, and Lucy. 

Legend 2

2007: Johnny Musso 

Class of 1989 Alabama Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Johnny Musso, the “Italian Stallion” was a three-year starter at halfback for the University of Alabama from 1969-71. He rushed for 2,741 career yards and 34 touchdowns, a Crimson Tide record for 16 years. He completed five passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns and had 61 pass receptions for 495 yards and four touchdowns. His total offense amounted to 3,328 yards gained and 40 touchdowns. Winning All-SEC and All-American honors, he was fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting and was a National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete and an NCAA postgraduate scholarship winner. 

Drafted by the Chicago Bears, he chose to go to the Canadian Football League. He played three years there, one year in the World Football League, and three years with the Bears. In 2000, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Legend 3

2008: Mike Kolen 

John Michel “Mike” Kolen, “Captain Crunch,” lived up to that descriptive name as the leading tackler in 16 of 25 games that he started in at Auburn University from 1967-1969. Kolen was one of the toughest linebackers in the “no-name defense” of the Miami Dolphins for eight years. He played in three straight Super Bowls (1972-74). The 1972 Dolphins team went undefeated and won the Super Bowl; the only do so in NFL history. In 1969 he was the first to receive the National Christian Athlete of the Year Award. Kolen was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1985. 

Legend 4

2009: Bobby Humphrey 

Alabama Sports Hall of Fame class of 2004 inductee Bobby Humphrey played collegiately at the University of Alabama where he was twice named All-American and All-SEC. He is number one on Alabama’s all-time all-purpose yards list for a career with 4,958 yards and for a season with 2,016 yards. He has the highest average all-purpose yards per game for a season with 168 yards in 1986 and the highest average all-purpose yards per game for a career with 141.7. He was selected to Alabama’s All-Century Team and was chosen as Alabama’s Offensive Player of the Decade for the 1980s. 

He was drafted in the first round of the 1989 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He was the first Bronco to record back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons (1989-90) and was the first rookie in Denver’s history to run for 1,000 yards. He played in Super Bowl XXIV and was named to the Pro Bowl in 1990.

Legend 5

2010: Bobby Bowden

Bobby Bowden retired from coaching following the 2009 season after posting an illustrious 44-year career as a head football coach. He finished career with an all-time record of 377-129-4, which ranks No.2 nationally in coaching victories. While at Florida State, where he spent his final 34 seasons as head coach, Bowden compiled a mark of 304-97-3, won a pair of national championships (1993 and 1999) and claim 12 Atlantic coast conference championships.

Bowden was an outstanding football player at Woodlawn High School in Birmingham and went on to Alabama as a freshman quarterback, fulfilling a lifelong dream to play for the Crimson Tide. He lasted one semester in Tuscaloosa before high school sweetheart Ann Estock lured him back to Birmingham. They soon married and Bobby transferred to Howard College in Birmingham. The two celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary the same year (1999) that FSU won its second national championship and Bowden coached his only undefeated team, which was the first team ever to go wire-to-wire as the AP No. 1 in college football history.

Bowden served as an assistant football coach and head track coach at Howard College (now Samford) from 1954-55. He left his alma mater to serve as athletics director and head coach at South Georgia Junior College from 1956-58. He returned to Samford as head coach from 1959-62. He joined the Florida State coaching staff under head coach Bill Peterson as wide receivers coach from 1963-65. Bowden moved on to West Virginia, serving as offensive coordinator from 1966-69 before taking over as the Mountaineers’ head coach from 1970 -75. He was named FSU‘s head coach in January 1976.

Legend 6

2011: Al Del Greco 

Al was the first kicker to earn a scholarship to play for the Auburn Tigers, and his record-setting career on The Plains and his 17-year NFL career made him one of the most prominent members of the Auburn family. His accomplishments at Auburn include kicking the game-winner against Michigan in the 1984 Sugar Bowl, and converting an SEC-record six field goals against Kentucky in 1982.

His NFL career saw him play and some of the more memorable games in history, including “The Comeback”, “The Music City Miracle”, and “The Tackle.” He converted his loan field goal attempt in Super Bowl XXXIV. As of 2008, Al is 13th on the NFL all-time scoring list and fifth on auburns all-time scoring list.

Since retiring from the NFL, Al has served as head golf coach and an assistant football coach at Spain Park High School. He also served as kicking coach for the Birmingham Steeldogs of Arena Football League 2 and was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. Al currently co-hosts a sports call-in show on WJOX, partnering with Jay Barker and Tony Kure on The Opening Drive since 2006. Al and his wife Lisa have three children: Erica, Trey, and Derek.

Legend 7

2012: Jack Crowe

Three have been many successful coaches in the 110-year history of Jacksonville State Football. Jack Crowe finished his career as the second winningest coach in the program’s history with a 87-57 record in 13 years. He posted ten straight winning seasons, which was a school record, and posted the best winning percentage in the Ohio Valley Conference among conference games during his tenure.

Crowe’s 74.7 percent winning percentage in Ohio Valley Conference games ranks among the all-time best in the league. He led the Gamecocks to three Ohio Valley Conference Championships with an all-time OVC record of 59-20, while posting the best record in the OVC in 2003, 2004, 2009 and 2011. His last three senior classes at JSU each posted 30 wins and ranks first, second, and third as the winningest four-year classes in the School’s Division I history.

Under Crowe, Jax State finished as the winningest team- by percentage – in the Ohio Valley Conference and in all of FCS football since joining the league in 2003. The Gamecocks won 74.7 percent of their conference games, posting a 59-20 record. 

A native of Birmingham, Crowe has coached over 37 years at some of the top programs in the country. During his career, he has worked at Auburn, Baylor, Arkansas, Clemson, and Wyoming on the Division I-A level and also has college coaching stints at North Alabama and Livingston (now West Alabama).

Crowe was named the head coach at Arkansas in January of 1990 after serving one year ad offensive coordinator. He coached the Razorbacks to the 1991 Independence Bowl as head coach. He spent three years as the offensive coordinator at Clemson, and four seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Auburn where Bo Jackson became a Heisman Trophy winner under his tutelage. 

Crowe got his start in coaching without playing college football. He played football and baseball as West End High School in Birmingham, then went to Jefferson State Junior College, where he stuck to baseball. He transferred to UAB and, after graduation with a degree in chemistry, became an assistant at West End High School. Crowe is married to the Former LeAnn Gains of Anniston. 

Legend 8

2013: Tony Nathan

The BBVA Compass Bowl is pleased to introduce former University of Alabama and Miami Dolphins standout Tony Nathan as the 2013 Golden Flake Legend of Birmingham. 

A First team all-state running back at Birmingham’s Woodlawn High School, Tony Nathan ran for a school record 1,450 yards and 142 touchdowns in his high school career. After accepting a scholarship to the University of Alabama to play of coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, Nathan established himself and an intricate part in the Crimson Tide’s explosive offense. He finished his collegiate career with 3,362 all-purpose yards and 30 touchdowns, capping his senior season by helping to defeat the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Sugar Bowl to capture the 1978 national championship for the University of Alabama.

Nathan was a third round pick of the Miami Dolphins in the 1979 NFL Draft and established himself as a triple threat over his nine-year professional career. After a stand out career that included two Super Bowls, Nathan retired from the Dolphins with 3,543 rushing yards, 3,592 receiving yards and 32 touchdowns. 

After completing his playing career, Nathan moved into coaching, where he has served as a running back coach for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens and Dan Francisco 49ers. Inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1999, Nathan currently lives in Miami Florida, where he coaches high school football and serves the Miami-Dade county court system ad a Bailiff.  

Legend 9

2014: Mike Fuller

Mike Fuller, born April 7, 1952 in Jackson, Mississippi, was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. After playing football at Shaw High School in Mobile, he signed with Auburn University. He played under Coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan and was captain in 1974. Fuller still holds six Tiger punt return records. He was second in the nation in punt returns in 1973 and fourth in 1974, and was an All-American defensive back. He enjoyed an eight-year pro career in the NFL with San Diego and Cincinnati. He returned 252 punts for 2,660 yards. He returned 74 kickoffs for 1,701 yards, a 21.5-yard average, and had 17 interceptions in his NFL career. He played in Super Bowl XVI with Cincinnati.

Legend 10

2015: Major Ogilvie

A 2014 inductee in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, Major Ogilvie is a state football legend at both the high school and college levels. After leading Mountain Brook High School to back-to-back state championships in 1975 and 1976, Ogilvie went on to star at running back of two national Championship teams. 

Ogilvie was part of a dominant running attack that led the Crimson Tide to Wins in all but four games in a span of four years en route to winning national championships in 1979 and 1980. In his career at the Capstone, he scored 25 rushing touchdowns.

The accolades he piled up while at Alabama include an All-SEC First Team selection and Academic All-American honor in 1979. He was selected as the Most Valuable Player in both the 1980 Sugar Bowl and 1981 Cotton Bowl, and was Captain of the 1980 Crimson Tide team. Ogilvie holds the distinctions of being the first player to score touchdowns in four consecutive New Year’s Day bowl games and being named to the All-Decade Teams at the University of Alabama for both the 1970s and 1980s. Today, Ogilvie resides in Birmingham, Alabama, working in the concrete business. 

 

Legend 11

2016: Joe Cribbs

Joe found his talent for football in his birthplace, Lamar County. Even from his days of playing youth football, Joe Cribbs was always a running back. “My football idol was (Nebraska Heisman Trophy winner) Johnny Rodgers,” he said. “I would watch him on television on Saturday, then the next Friday night try to do the things that he did. He always performed big in big games.” He was twice named a high school All-American before going on to become a record-setting running back for the Auburn Tigers from 1976 to 1979. His four-year career was one of best ever at Auburn as he is still the fourth leading rusher in Auburn history trailing only Bo Jackson, Carnell Williams and William Brooks.

He was chosen in the second round of the 1980 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills and made an immediate impact. That season he had 1,185 rushing yards and was consensus AFC Rookie of the Year. In seven seasons, he ran for 5,356 yards and scored 27 touchdowns, the majority with the Bills. He was named to three Pro Bowls. He joined the USFL Birmingham Stallions for the 1984 season, led the USFL in rushing, was league Running Back of the Year, unanimous All-USFL and led the team to the playoffs for the first time.

Cribbs, who has been an insurance broker for 18 years and has owned other local businesses, met his wife, Vernessa, in Auburn when she was a student at Alabama State. They have three children – daughter Ajai, son Joe Omar, and, son Nigel.

Legend 12

2017: Cornelius Bennett

The 2017 Golden Flake Legend of Birmingham, Cornelius Bennett, is a former University of Alabama All-American who appeared in five Super Bowls during a 14-season NFL career. From 1983 to 1986, Bennett become one of only two Alabama players ever named to three All-American teams, and to this day remains the highest selected Crimson Tide defender ever drafted to the NFL. 

While active in the NFL, Bennett played for the Buffalo Bills from 1987 to 1995, the Atlanta Falcons from 1996 to 1998 and the Indianapolis Colts from 1999 to 2000. Cornelius Bennett was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.

Legend 13

2018: Jeff Rutledge

The 2018 Golden Flake Legend, Jeff Rutledge, was born and raised in Birmingham. A member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, Rutledge earned back-to-back state titles at Banks High School where he was a member of the 1974 High School All-American Team. After graduation, he played for the University of Alabama where he was a member of three SEC Championship teams under Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, He was the Starting quarterback, leading Alabama to two Sugar Bowl appearances finishing with a #2 National ranking in 1977 and winning the National Championship in 1978. Rutledge earned All-SEC honors in 1978 and 1979. 

Drafted in 1979, he played 14 seasons for three different NFL teams, including the Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, and Washington Redskins. During his NFL career, Rutledge participated in three Super Bowls winning two, one each with the Giants and Redskins. 

Legend 14

2019: Ben Tamburello

Ben Tamburello, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, played football and graduated from Shades Valley High School where he lettered two years and was named the Most Valuable Offensive Player in 1982. Played collegiately at Auburn. University, where he was a four year starter at Center. Received football News Freshman All-America honors in 1983, The Ken Rice Award as Auburn’s Best Blocking Lineman in 1984. A unanimous All-American pick in 1986, an All-American in 1985 and All-SEC both years. Selected by his teammates as team captain his senior season and was also named the SEC Lineman of the Year by the Atlanta Touchdown Club and Birmingham’s Monday Morning Quarterback Club. He was an Academic AH-SEC selection and received the Shug Jordan award as the Outstanding Senior Player. He was a finalist for both the Outland and Lombardi Trophy Award. He was the 65th pick of the 1987 NFL Draft preceding a five year career with the Philadelphia Eagles. He has since been named the Offensive Player of the Decade for the 1980’s by the Birmingham Post Herald, to the Auburn Team of the Century, to the Iron Bowl Dream Team for Auburn University, and was inducted to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.

2020: N/A

2021: TBD

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