Both the Alabama and Auburn families are mourning the passing of legendary figures in both circles as former Alabama star Bart Starr and the Voice of the Auburn Tigers Rod Bramblett passed over Memorial Day weekend.
Bramblett and his wife Paula passed away on Saturday, May 25, after sustaining injuries from a vehicle accident in Auburn.
“I’m heartbroken by the loss of Rod Bramblett and his wife Paula,” Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn said. “Rod was a true professional and was always a pleasure to work with. He loved Auburn and it showed in his work.
“As much as he loved Auburn, his family came first and foremost. This is a difficult time and we will continue to pray and offer our support to the Bramblett family, especially their children Shelby and Joshua.”
Rod Bramblett – an Auburn graduate – has been with Auburn since 1993, when he started out as a baseball commentator and in 2003 took over as the lead announcer for baseball, football and men’s basketball.
Rod Bramblett is most known for his legendary call during the “Kick Six” game against Alabama in 2013 and was named the National Broadcaster of the Year that year by Sports Illustrated. He was also a three-time Alabama State Broadcaster of the Year in 2006, 2010 and 2013.
“It won’t be the same without Rod,” Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl said. “Ninety minutes before the game and 20 minutes after it, we spent time talking Auburn basketball. He loved Auburn, the student-athletes and the coaches and it showed every time he called a game.
“As good as he was at what he did, he was a better man. He was kind, considerate and selfless among so many other great qualities. Selfishly, I’ll miss my friend and his wife Paula. I Just pray for their family.”
Rod Bramblett also served as the host of the radio show Tiger Talk and was the Director of Broadcast Operations for Auburn Sports Properties. Before coming to work at Auburn, he started his broadcast career on WZZZ/WCJM radio stations as an Auburn student in the 1980s and became a play-by-play announcer for Lee-Scott Academy and Auburn High School in the early 90s.
Paula Bramblett was also a long-time Auburn employee, working in the Information Technology Department.
Alabama fans also mourned the passing of legendary quarterback Bart Starr on Sunday, May 26, when the 85 year old passed away. Starr had been struggling with ailing health ever since suffering two strokes and a heart attack in 2014.
Starr was a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide football teams from 1952 until his graduation in 1955 and was a star quarterback, defensive back and punter.
As a sophomore, Starr set an Alabama passing record – at the time – with 870 yards and eight touchdowns leading the Crimson Tide to the 1953 Cotton Bowl.
“Bart Starr was a true Alabama legend,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “He was a fierce competitor on the field, an outstanding coach and an even better person. Our thoughts and prayers are with (Starr’s wife) Cherry and the entire Starr family.”
After a back injury sidetracked Starr’s junior and senior seasons, he was drafted in the 17th Round of the 1956 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. Starr went on to revolutionize the passing game – which had been largely nonexistent in the years prior – and five NFL Championships along with two Super Bowls.
Starr led the Packers to championships in both Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II, while winning the MVP Award in both games, as well. He was a four-time NFL Pro Bowler, four-time All-Pro and was the 1966 NFL MVP.
Starr was most known for his accuracy and decision-making, earning the league’s top passer rating five times and still holding the career playoff record for passer rating to this day.
“Bart was a legend on and off the field,” Alabama Athletics Director Greg Byrne said. “He represented the University of Alabama and everything in his life as a true champion. Our deepest sympathies go out to the entire Starr family.”
Following his retirement from the NFL in 1971, Starr became the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the Packers in 1972 before being named head coach in 1975.
Starr’s Packers posted a 53-76-3 record in his nine years at the helm and made just one playoff appearance.
Starr may be most known off the field for his many charitable activities. Starr and his wife Cherry helped co-found the Rawhide Boys Ranch in Wisconsin in the 1960s, which is a facility designed to help at-risk young men in the State of Wisconsin. The facility is still in operation to this day.
The Starr’s also started the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation in the 1970s raising funds for cancer research and care in honor of the legendary Packers coach.