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Chucky Mullins: The Lasting Impact of No. 38

Chucky Mullins (38) prepares to lead Ole Miss onto the field. Standing next to him is head coach Billy Brewer – Ole Miss File Photo

Ole Miss football has created a lot of great memories and given us players that have changed the course of program history forever… Archie and Eli Manning, Charlie Conerly and Johnny Vaught, just to name a few. 

But one player from Russellville, Alabama, changed the footprint of Ole Miss football yet again in 1989.
As Ole Miss prepares to play host to Vanderbilt as part of the 2017 Homecoming game, one can’t help recall the day in 1989 (Oct. 28 to be exact) when Roy Lee “Chucky” Mullins played his last football game. 
The disastrous play came early in the match-up and changed forever the lives of both young men involved.
At the 6:57 mark of the first quarter, on a third down and 20 from the Ole Miss 20-yard line, Vandy QB John Gromos attempted a pass to Brad Gaines over the middle; it fell incomplete as Mullins hit Gaines and both players fell to the ground. Mullins never got up from that play.
On the hit, Mullins dislocated his fourth-fifth cervical vertebrae in his neck. He was paralyzed from the neck down.
“I’ve been an athletic trainer for more than 25 years,” said Rebels head athletic trainer Leroy Mullins, who tended to Mullins after the hit. “This is the worst on-the-field injury I have been involved with. It’s the type of situation you constantly worry about and hope you never have to face.”
Mullins played in eight games prior to that season and was credited with seven tackles, including six solo hits. He also broke up two passes, one against Georgia and the other against Vanderbilt in the “nickel back” position, both of which denied scoring opportunities.
After that day, Mullins’ story was shared across the nation as he was able to touch lives with his “never quit” attitude. He and Gaines became close friends; to this day, Gaines visits Chucky’s grave every year on October 28.
The University retired Mullins’ number and honored him by allowing one senior defensive player, chosen by the coaches and showing the same type of heart and determination that Chucky showed his teammates, to wear his number. The Chucky Mullins Courage Award began in 1990. 
This year’s recipient is Marquis Haynes:

To see a full list of the recipients click here.


Adam Brown is the sports editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at adam.brown@hottytoddy.com.

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