Big Red Car here. Sadness in Texas today. James Street — legendary Texas quarterback and all around good guy — has died of an apparent heart attack.
The quintessential Texas hero
Texas is big and our heroes are even bigger — Sam Houston, LBJ and James Street.
Not only are they bigger but they’re better. You’re just going to have to live with it, ya’ll, cause it’s the truth.
James Street — great looking kid who Longhorn Coach Darrell Royal puts into the game to spur a flagging Texas offense and to run the ‘Bone. The wishbone that is.
How good does he do?
Never loses a game in the next 20 games and goes 20-0 for his career directing the Horns to an undefeated National Championship in 1969. Beats Arkansas in the Game of the Century and whips Notre Dame for a National Championship.
On the side, he’s a world class baseball pitcher — 29-8 — and throws a perfect game and a no-hitter.
Style and class
James Street was not a big athlete but he had that magic quality — the ability to beat you in your house and to get the phone numbers of all of your cheerleaders.
He looked the part. A “gee whiz” nice looking young man who was just a winner.
Too small. Too slow. Seventh string on the depth chart. Undefeated as a starter. Unequaled, ever.
America is running short of real heroes. We’ve got the Greatest Generation for a few more years.
John Wayne was an actor.
James Street was the real deal.
He lived in Austin and when you saw him you were tempted to think — “…that’s the famous James Street? That guy?”
And then you knew that heroes — real heroes — come in all sizes and it’s the unquenchable desire to win that makes a football hero. James Street was all that and then some.
Look at this picture. There’s Coach Royal and there’s his quarterback, James Street. Look at the scoreboard. Texas is down and there’s just a few minutes left in the game. It’s fourth and 2. The next play determines everything. Time for some James Street magic. And he delivered the magic and a National Championship.
This is what it looks like just seconds before a legend is born and crystallized for all time. This is the moment before greatness is showered on Texas, Coach Royal and James Street.
He was also a damn good guy. A good husband, a great father to five sons, a damn good businessman and a guy whose smile, handshake and greeting were genuine and real. He had nothing to prove to you, friend, he’d already done all of that.
Godspeed, Texas hero. We will miss having you around but your legend lives on and it’s been a real pleasure to breath the same air as you.