Jeremiah Castille had been associated with the University of Alabama football program for most of his life, and not just because he was an All-SEC selection for two consecutive years (1981-82).
Recruited out of Phenix City, he’s been an inspirational leader of the Crimson Tide, including as the director the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Castille had three interceptions in Coach Paul W. “Bear” Bryant’s final game, a 21-15 victory against Illinois in the Liberty Bowl. The helped him tied the Alabama record for career interceptions with 16.
Less than a month after playing that final game in Memphis, where Castille was named the defensive MVP, he served as a pallbearer at Bryant’s funeral.
After being a third-round selection in the 1983 NFL Draft, Castille played five seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before being traded to Denver.
During the 1987 AFC Championship Game he famously stripped the ball away from Cleveland running back Earnest Byner, on the play known as “The Fumble.”
“I was thinking, ‘I got burned the last time I tried to bump-and-run this guy [Webster Slaughter],’ so instead I stepped back six-to-eight yards before the snap, so I could better see the play unfold,” Castille said. “I saw it was a draw play and that Byner had the ball. I remember thinking that Byner ran all over us that entire second half, so there was no way I was going to tackle him. Instead, I went for the ball the whole time.”
Castille also had an interception in Super Bowl XXII, but Denver lost, 42-10.
He was ordained as a minister in 1999, and with his wife Jean founded Jeremiah Castille Foundation. Castille has served as the Crimson Tide’s team chaplain since 2001.
All six of Castille’s kids followed him to Alabama, including three who played football for the Crimson Tide. Tim and Simeon were standouts at fullback and cornerback, respectfully.
Caleb, who walked on to the team, gave up football to pursue a successful acting career. One of his first roles was to star as his father’s Crimson Tide teammate Tony Nathan in the movie “Woodlawn.”
Castille was selected as a member of Alabama’s All-Century Defensive Team, and is enshrined in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.