Monday, October 3, 2022

All On The Field – Russellville, Alabama

Chucky Mullins Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletic Archives
Chucky Mullins
Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletic Archives

“You’ve got to leave it all on the field,” said every football coach from the pee-wee leagues to the Super Bowl. To give everything you’ve got for the team, the cause, the win!

Vandy is over and done, and we got out of Nashville with a oh-so-needed payback win over the Commodores. These Rebs left it all on the field. Hotty Toddy its over!

But for the Ole Miss family, there is a part of any Vandy game that will never truly be over. Vandy will always remind the faithful of a great Rebel who left it all on the field. It was Ole Miss Homecoming against Vandy in 1989, when Rebel Chucky Mullins gave his all for the touchdown saving tackle and left his whole life on the field.

I know that spot in the endzone where it happened. I was there that day. I still look at that patch of green and remember. For me it is hallowed Ole Miss ground. No less so than the Grove, The Circle and the Confederate cemetery behind Tad Smith. And along with this sacred Ole Miss earth is a little plot of ground outside of Russellville, Alabama. It is the final resting place of Ole Miss legend and Colonel Reb  Roy Lee “Chucky” Mullins.

For 364 days of the year the college football fans in Russellville are all about the fortunes of the Tide and Tigers. But on that Saturday when The Ole Miss Rebels and Vanderbilt Commodores meet on the field of play, it is noted and remembered in Russellville as the day Chucky went down.

Chucky came from humble beginnings. He was raised by his single mom but she passed away when Chucky was in the 7th grade. At that time, he ask that he be placed under the guardianship of Carver and Karen Phillips of Russellville.

The Phillips provided a solid, Christian home that allowed Chucky to grow and mature into a favorite on and off the Russellville Golden Tiger’s athletic fields. Chucky graduated from Russellville High School in 1988, and along the way, he earned All-Conference, All-Area and All-State honors in football as a junior and senior.

He was team captain and most valuable player on his high school team. Chucky was noticed by several colleges, but it was Ole Miss Coach Billy Brewer who impressed Chucky the most, and when he was offered a four-year scholarship to play his college ball in Oxford, he took it. Hardly any local sports fan could tell you about the actual day Chucky drove out of Russellville en route to Ole Miss, but they all know when and how he came back to them.

Chucky’s accident, courageous rehab fight, his return to Oxford and his sad passing have been well documented. But lesser known in the whole story is the love and respect that lives between Oxford and Russellville. While talking to several Russellville residents they all, to a man, remembered the respect and dignity shown to their town by the Ole Miss administration, coaches, players and individual Rebel fans who felt the need to be there when Chucky came home.

And by those who still to this day show up in town, one and two at a time, making sure they have the right directions to that small plot of ground that is sacred Ole Miss soil. Out a few miles from Russellville, into Franklin County, to the small Luketown Cemetery. They stand silently for a time, and then they are gone.

But the heart felt connection between Ole Miss and Russellville, Alabama, will never be gone. It will be there every time a Rebel slides his hand over Chucky’s smooth head and runs onto Hollingsworth field. And that means that Russellville, Alabama is, and will never quit being a Hotty Toddy Hometown. –– John Cofield
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