Former All-American center for Alabama football and Super Bowl champion Paul Crane passed away on Sunday at the age of 76.
Crane played football at Vigor High School in Prichard, Ala., earning All-State honors his senior season in 1961 for both the center and linebacker position. He then moved to Tuscaloosa to play for legendary Crimson Tide coach Paul "Bear" Bryant from 1962-1965, playing at both center and linebacker.
Crane earned his All-American honors for his work at center his senior season and assisted Alabama to two national championships in 1964 and 1965.
After graduating from Alabama, Crane shifted his efforts to the NFL and the New York Jets, playing with former Alabama quarterback Joe Namath and helping his team win Super Bowl III in 1968. He totaled seven years in professional football before retiring after the 1973 season.
In 2018, the Jets honored the 1968 championship team at MetLife Stadium in New York. While there, Namath honored Crane among others, dubbing them "unsung heroes."
“When I look around the room, I see Paul, I see Carl [MacAdams], I see Rocky [Paul Rochester], teammates that didn’t get the spotlight on them all the time,” Namath said in an excerpt acquired from NewYorkJets.com. “And when we get together, it’s just like yesteryear. This is like 1968, 1969, this group of guys, these teammates. We’re together. We do bust some chops now and then, too, but we had a unity.
"And to this day, when we look at each other, man, it’s like we’ve been together all these years. We won it and I’m thankful.”
After finishing his NFL career, Crane served as an assistant coach for Alabama from 1974-78 and then worked the same position at Ole Miss from 1978-81.
Crane also coached at McGill-Toolen Catholic School from 1991-98 to close out his football career.
Crane was inducted into the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame in 1991 and then the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. The annual Paul Crane Offensive Lineman Award that is given at the end of spring practice is given in his honor.