American Football Death of Auburn football legend and Heisman Trophy winner...

Death of Auburn football legend and Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan

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Pat Sullivan, a former Auburn University quarterback, who won the school's first Heisman Trophy in 1971 and played in the NFL, has passed away. He was 69 years old.

Sullivan's family, in a statement on Sunday, said he had died at home, surrounded by his relatives.

"He was diagnosed with cancer in 2003 and had a long and difficult battle with his treatments. The family appreciates the outpouring of love and support from everyone, "the statement said.

Sullivan died one day after Auburn defeated his rival Alabama in the Iron Bowl, 48-45.

Sullivan is one of three Auburn Tigers to win the Heisman, the annual award given to the most outstanding player in college football. Quarterback Cam Newton won the trophy in 2010 and Bo Jackson back in 1985. In 2012, the statues of Sullivan, Jackson and Newton were unveiled in front of the Jordan-Hare stadium, the birthplace of Auburn.

Sullivan has been a two-time All-American and has been named the SEC's year-round player as a junior and senior.

Current head coach Gus Malzahn paid tribute to Sullivan.

"He was a friend, a mentor and a man of character, loved by many generations of Auburn fans. Pat Sullivan is, and always will be, the definition of a Auburn man, "Malzahn said.

A memorable campaign at Heisman

Born in Birmingham, Sullivan attended Auburn with a track and field bursary. He resumed the starting quarterback position as a sophomore in 1969 and totaled nearly 1,700 yards and 16 touchdowns, according to Auburn.

The following season, he dominated the country with a total of 2,856 yards and led Auburn to a 9-2 record and a top 10 finish.

But 1971 is perhaps the most memorable year for Sullivan, highlighted by his performance against Georgia, his longtime rival.

Auburn was ranked No. 6 and Georgia No. 7 when the two teams met in November, according to AuburnTigers.com. AuburnTigers.com has never met undefeated teams in the history of the Southeast Conference.

Sullivan had 248 yards and four touchdowns to beat Georgia. A few weeks later, he won the Heisman.

Sullivan's favorite target was receiver Terry Beasley. Beasley holds the school's career mark in receiving touchdowns (29) and yards (2,507) and Sullivan holds the highest score for touchdowns with 53, said AuburnTigers.com. "Sullivan to Beasley" has become a favorite expression among Auburn fans.

Sullivan and Beasley's numbers 7 and 88, and Jackson's number 34, are the only three Auburn jerseys to be removed.

"He was a humble gentleman and a legend of Auburn," said Allen Greene, director of sports at Auburn.

Sullivan was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the second round of the 1972 draft and played for the Falcons until 1975. He also played one season with the Washington Redskins and the San Francisco 49ers, announced the university.

After football, Sullivan worked as a radio commentator for Auburn and as a quarterback coach for the team. He was the head coach of Texas Christian University from 1992 to 1997, and then from Samford University.

Sullivan left his Samford head coach position in 2014 after eight seasons to take up another job at the university, the university said.

Sullivan is survived by his wife Jean; his children, Kim, Kelly and Patrick; and eight grandchildren.

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