My favorite movie as a kid was the 1987 Iron Bowl and my favorite actor was Kurt Crain, because Kurt Crain and Aundray Bruce were “hoping to sack themselves an SEC title” and Kurt Crain “put the lumber” to Clay Whitehurst and Kurt Crain “knocked the ball loose. Ballgame. Ballgame.”
Ballgame. Kurt Crain. Holy flourishes of CBS synthesizers. 1987 Jim Lampley sounds his horn and the Crimson walls come down.
My mom’s friend recorded it for us and put the tape in the hardest, most protective, most perfectly labeled VHS clam shell you’ve ever seen and I watched it over and over again. It was a morality play with “Falcon Crest” commercials. It was my background music. It was my Saturday morning. It was my Saturday night. I have it memorized.
I was there. It was my first. I was 8. It was time. Dad. Legion Field. Birmingham. Baptism. Good. Evil.
Good kicks a field goal to go up by 10 with, like, a minute and a half left. Evil hasn’t even scored–but Evil has the ball.
“For freshman quarterback Jeff Dunn, this will be the biggest moment of his life,” and the biggest moment of Jeff Dunn’s life, the biggest moment of an Alabama quarterback’s life, is about to end in failure, it has to, I just know it. God knows it. And Kurt Crain knows it.
And so it did—“A final disheartening blow for Alabama”—and many lessons were learned. For freshman quarterback Jeff Dunn, don’t throw over the middle to a guy with the most Clay Whitehurst sounding name ever when you’re desperate to stop the clock. For me, don’t celebrate the death of an opposing team’s player. And I truly thought Clay Whitehurst was dead, and with him, any chance of Evil winning. I shouted! I cheered! Ding Dong! Kurt Crain!
Dad put his hand on my shoulder. “Don’t do that, son. Auburn people don’t do that. See what Kurt Crain did? He didn’t point or laugh at him or stand over him. He just tackled him and got up and jogged to the sideline.”
When I think of Auburn linebackers, I think of Kurt Crain. When I think of Auburn people, I think of Kurt Crain. I think of Kurt Crain.
Kurt Crain died yesterday. I really, really wish he hadn’t.
Related: Bo and Me.
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My parents sat with his at the Super Dome for the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1st, 1988…always was one of my favorite players. Truely sad. War Eagle Forever Kurt!
FYI – Wrong link for ‘died yesterday.’
Keep Susan, Jake, Shelby & Blain in your prayers. They lost a husband and a daddy yesterday. So many of us lost a friend. And yes, he was a hell of an Auburn man!!! RIP Kurt.
Wonderful, sad, thank you.
FREIDA MURPHY says
Great tribute to an Auburn man. It is so hard to understand why someone who was such a great inspiration to others could not save himself.
Great column … and thanks for posting the video, too.
Video played at his funeral:
Shelby Crain says
I found this article.. and it’s one I’ve never seen before. As my father I didn’t know his career titles or years. After he passed I remember someone asking me and this blank look I gave them.. because all I knew was he was my dad, a great dad.. and friend, and he loved me. He taught me what loyalty, standing up for what’s right, even when it’s not easy, and apologizing when you are wrong.. what those things mean. To reflect off one comment..
the reason it shouldn’t be surprising when someone who is such a inspiration, motivator and mentor for others.. can’t save themselves.. is because they spend their lives bettering others because that’s their calling and passion. It’s their fulfillment. How would they view him if he had to be weak when all he showed them was how to be strong? That’s why he couldn’t save him self at the time. Even though we tried. Because making sure those he impacted and told they could do it, he didn’t want them to suffer or second guess their selves because their perception of him would change. Is that wrong? Yes. Would that be true if so? No. But that is the thought that went behind it. My father never did one thing out of selfishness.:. Even his death.. I will til the day I pass.. believe he thought he was doing that for others as well. I don’t think anyone knows the guilt and emotional path suicide takes people down. Especially when that person would be the last one anyone would think would take that route. All I ask is for everyone to do right by Kurt Crain, to remember my father and let his legacy live on for who he was, and how he impacted so many lives for the better., and not how his ended.
The War Eagle Reader says
Thanks for sharing that, Shelby.