If you were an Auburn fan growing up in the 70s, there were only two choices when you lined up to play back yard football. Even the kids in Alabama gear standing on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage knew it. You pretended you were either Sullivan or Beasley.
Thousands of us mimicked quarterback Pat Sullivan’s textbook release in backyards across the state. Similar thousands worked diligently at perfecting the over-the-shoulder catches that receiver Terry Beasley made appear so effortless.
If you couldn’t afford a jersey, you took masking tape and lined out a number seven or a number 88 on your backyard jersey.
They were our heroes, Auburn’s dynamic duo. It’s fair to wonder if either would have risen to the status of legend without the other.
Sullivan led the NCAA in total offense in 1970 with 2,856 yards setting a then-NCAA record for most yards per play with 8.57. In his career, he was responsible for 71 touchdowns (53 passing/18 rushing) which tied the then-NCAA record. Sullivan finished his college career with 6,284 passing yards and 75 total touchdowns.
Beasley led the SEC in receptions (51), receiving yards (1051) and points (72) in 1970. His 2507 career receiving yards remains an Auburn record as does his 29 career receiving touchdowns.
Sullivan won the Heisman, Beasley was a two-time All American.
Both had their numbers retired. Both were elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
In Auburn lore you rarely mention one without the other. The studious quarterback and his affable red-haired receiver were an inseparable pair. One put the ball in the air, the other sacrificed his body to catch it.
Those sacrifices have taken their toll.
Beasley was perhaps the toughest receiver to ever put on the pads. He was fearless and willing to take or give a shot.
In February of this year the War Eagle Reader posted a photo of an unconscious Beasley being dragged from the field by Sullivan and Robby Robinette in a 1970 game against Alabama.
When Beasley regained his senses after the hit that knocked him out, Auburn head coach Shug Jordan implored him: “Hoss, we need you.” Beasley returned to the game and helped Auburn rally from 17 points down to beat the Tide 33-28.
The concussion Beasley suffered in the 1970 Iron Bowl was his first. It wasn’t his last.
Beasley suffered multiple concussions over his career at Auburn and later with the San Francisco 49′ers of the NFL. Various sources list the number of concussions at 17, 18, 19 or more.
The effects have been personally catastrophic. Beasley spent much of the last 15 years in near constant pain. In a June 13, 1988 article in the Gadsden Times, Beasley described suffering from nausea, headaches, memory loss and acute shortness of breath.
Now 63, Beasley is at last report in intensive care in a Birmingham hospital. His family recently took to social media asking for prayers and support.
My AUBURN FAMILY:: My father needs your help more than ever, he is so sick in I.C.U. He is not doing well and his lungs are not producing oxygen. His pacemaker is not doing very well. His brain is in overdrive and cannot control much at all, after years of injuries, abuse, and hard work. His pain management is beyond repair. Our family and my father need your prayers more than ever!! If you can send a kind word to him, please send him a kind words, love, and support! The sooner you send the support the sooner he will get it, which he really needs! please send it to
2010 Brookwood Medical Center Drive
Birmingham, AL 35209
The outpouring of love from the Auburn family has had a positive effect on the man so many of us idolized when we were young.
It has also created a sadly predictable negative backlash from people who have nothing better to do. Yesterday Beasley’s family posted this message:
Please leave our family alone if you think we want money, statues, or anything other than prayers. Please. I haven’t slept in days because I am with my father constantly, and it’s painful, as I keep up with Auburn recruiting and all that concerns my University…..and I see negative posts about my dad. (especially when I am just trying to take my mind off of what we are going through.) Please note: we love you all! We thank the many REAL fans and family who have more than outpoured their love for my father, as it has a lot to do with keeping him going! If you do not have something nice to say, please leave the Beasley’s out of it. I apologize for any harm I have caused this University or anyone who loves it as much as we do! God Bless EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU. War Eagle and Thank You so much Family.
If you haven’t yet reached out to Terry or his family to offer your support, we encourage you to do so in a positive way, as the Auburn family does.
Beasley gave so much of himself for us on Saturday afternoons. The least we can do is give some of that back.
Auburn is never far from Beasley’s mind. In 2000 the former Auburn receiver established the Terry Beasley Number 88 Scholarship to recognize and encourage academically outstanding, highly motivated students, in any field of study, who demonstrate financial need.
His autobiographical account of his spiritual journey through football glory and post-football physical crisis is available through Amazon and other book retailers.