The Grove Bowl weekend is huge for Ole Miss football but has also become the backdrop for the annual Chucky Mullins Courage Award.
This Saturday morning prior to the Grove Bowl Ole Miss football will announce the recipient for the 2019 Chucky Mullins Courage Award. While many Ole Miss fans see the No.38 on the field each season many are way too young to have remembered the player who was responsible for the number. And yes there were great 38s before Chucky and more afterward but the man who brought the courage was Chucky.
As a fan of Ole Miss football for the better part of 53 years I have seen a lot of games. However, the game in which Chucky was injured was one of the worst. At the time I was younger and we couldn’t be sure how bad the injury was or what would become of Chucky and the game went on. Later we learned the extent of his injuries and we began to see what Chucky Mullins and true courage really was.
Leroy ‘Chucky’ Mullins was paralyzed from the neck down and Ole Miss Rebels lives would be changed forever. The Chucky Mullins Courage Award exemplifies exactly what it means to be a Rebels player or even a fan who is facing adversity. No matter how far we’ve been beaten down season after season we never quit.
That was the spirit of Chucky Mullins and what the No.38 means to Ole Miss football. Some of us were fortunate enough to have watched him play in college and watched what his legacy at Ole Miss has become. Some Rebels fans are too young to remember Chucky and that’s sad because all it took was meeting him once to change your life and your memory forever.
At A Corner In Oxford
Ole Miss Rebels
Former Rebels head coach Billy Brewer, and I can’t remember the exact words verbatim, remarked one time to the effect , “It’s not about what the injury did to impact Chucky but how Chucky continues to impact those around him.”
There is no doubt Chucky left an everlasting imprint on Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on that Saturday when he made a clean hit on Vanderbilt RB Brad Gaines who has lived with the pain of that moment since. However, his greatest imprint is what he left us in his short time after the injury.
One Saturday afternoon after a Ole Miss basketball game at the Tad Pad I had my one and only encounter with Chucky Mullins. He was sitting at a corner on campus and simply waiting on traffic to clear. The whole time he was there he was offered help by Ole Miss students and fans which he kindly declined.
Standing there awaiting my own turn to cross I heard him tell one of his friends there with him waiting, “everybody thinks that I really need help, but I can make it all on my own.” When I got beside Chucky at the corner I simply asked, “what’s up Chucky?” He simply smiled and replied, “not much dude.” We exchanged pleasantries and we both waited for the traffic to each be able to go our way.
When the traffic cleared for me to be able to get across I simply couldn’t run and we continued the usual small talk between two Rebels. All I asked was if we could just talk while we waited and Chucky was obliged. We were engaged for the next several minutes about Ole Miss football which he loved. The street finally cleared for Chucky because of one single fan who knew who he was and stopped traffic with his vehicle.
I never offered to help him cross the street but our simple interaction was all it took for me to understand where his courage came from when we crossed that street, I knew he could make it across that busy corner and he did. I waited and stood down the street chatting with friends as I watched him on his way with his friends and with a huge smile on his face. That was just Chucky Mullins.
There is no doubt Chucky was special and I was glad I had waited there at that corner to cross with him as several others did. It was a brief few minutes which was happenstance at the time but really meant something special once he was gone. At that corner neither of us knew what lay ahead for either of us. Courage carries each of us forward and in a way we both have made it across our own streets.
Always More To Come
Over the years since Chucky left this Ole Miss football world we have seen some Rebels greats don the No.38 patch and now the jersey. Chucky left us with something in which we see the very best from the Ole Miss defense each season and Saturday morning will we find out the 2019 Chucky Mullins Courage Award winner and the player who will wear the great No.38 this coming college football season.
Who will be the 2019 Chucky Mullins Courage Award winner? At this point we really can’t be sure but we know they will wear the No.38 and be the very best defensive leader both on and off the field and they will have COURAGE. Please be sure to check back here as OHT looks at our past favorites for the award and the No.38 as we head towards the 2019 Grove Bowl and the announcement. Thank you Chucky. Hotty Toddy!