Sad news for me to learn of the passing of John David Crow. As a youngster learning about the Cardinals from my father he became one of my earliest sports heroes. Following my favorite players, Minnie Minoso of the White Sox and Ernie Banks of the Cubs and Ollie Matson of our Cardinals, John David was next because he was taking Ollie's place of my Cardinal players.
My Dad taught me about him, that he was something called the Heisman Trophy winner, that he was a two-way player, a true triple-threat, just like Marshall Goldberg and Charlie Trippi had been. And, as I later learned was a 'bonus pick' of the Cardinals when that practice was a NFL draft practice. He told me that they picked a QB who would lead the team and this star RB and together they would lead the team to being a contender.
His first two years with the team coincided with their last two seasons in Chicago and neither he nor the team achieved the fans expectations. Goerge Halas and the NFL biwigs arm-twisted the Charlie Bidwill's widow, Violet, with the promise of a new start and they left for St.Louis. It was there that John David had his breakout season and my original hopes for him seemed to come alive. I remember he set two records I was most happy about and did last for some years. He set a team record for rushing yardage which led the whole NFL and he ran for a franchise single-game rushing mark. No.44, who I had been in awe of watching him at summer camps at Lake Forest College, north of Chicago, finally looked like he would be what his college coach, 'Bear' Bryant, predicted for him. I remember watching him practice punting and placekicking, his playing in the secondary, for he had been a college two-way player, and how exciting it was to see him excel at the halfback option pass play.
That season was my first taste of our Cardinals having a winning record and it was mostly due to John David's exploits. While he was to be traded after 2-3 seasons in St.Louis he did continue to be a productive back for the 49'ers before retiring. I am sure the Bidwill family held him in high regard over the years. Bill and his brother, Stormy, who took over control of the team after their mother's death around 1961, were about his age and must have had a very good relationship with him like they developed with Larry Wilson.
Maybe Bill and Michael Bidwill will schedule some special tribute and/or recognition for John David this season. I would not be surprised if the current home of the St.Louis Rams has his name in their Ring of Honor for he was the team's first St.Louis star player, one 'old school' fans like myself remember well and fondly.