More from Billy Brewer’s porch.
We talked a lot about Chucky Mullins. It’s a topic never far from Brewer’s thoughts for obvious reasons.
The Mullins story was really reignited last summer and fall, 25 years after his paralyzing accident. ESPN released its documentary, and Ole Miss had a big recognition weekend around the Memphis game in late September when it renamed Coliseum Drive to Chucky Mullins Drive.
President George H.W. Bush visited Mullins in the Memphis hospital in that fall of 1989.
Of course, they set up the details of the visit through Brewer.
“The president of the United States calls you. I thought it was somebody pulling my leg. It was about 7 o’clock in the morning. Thought it was my wife, somebody who had the inside (the hospital) phone number. She said, ‘Are you coach Billy Brewer?’ I said, ‘Yes mam.’ She said, ‘One moment please for the president of the United States.’ I said, ‘Put his ass on.’ That’s exactly what I said. He said, ‘Hey Billy.’ Of course they’ve got the make-up on you and all this stuff. He said, ‘I’m going to be in Memphis Thursday, and I’d like for you to be there. You’ve got to meet with the Secret Service people prior to.’ I said, ‘Yes sir, I sure will.’ He said, ‘I want to go see Chucky.’ They didn’t check me out or anything, but I go up one elevator, and he goes up another elevator. Secret Service was backing down the hall. They had their little trench coats on, little Uzis in the bags. Chucky was in the last room on the left.”
From that room later in December Mullins was aware when Ole Miss would pass the hospital on its way to practice for the Liberty Bowl.
“Here we are playing a bowl game in Memphis, Tenn. He’s up here. We go by everyday twice to practice. We go by and blow the sirens. Kids know he’s up there, they been up there. They point at him. He hears the sirens. He knows it. I asked the doctors if he could come to the game. They said, ‘We doubt it.’ The weather changed from 70 degrees to 4 degrees. We’re out there warming up, and it’s brutal. Our strength coach is out there, and he’s got on shorts and a t-shirt. He told the players he would do that. Players kept asking me, ‘Is Chucky coming?’ I said, ‘I really don’t know. I’m not telling you a story. They are trying to get him. They did not tell me.’ When we left the Peabody (for the game) they were excited about it. We were warming up on the far end. That little ambulance, that shoot in the south end zone, he’s backing up with lights flashing. They said, ‘That’s Chucky.’ They broke and run like a stampede of cattle. Ran through the Air Force (warm-up) deal down there, just ran to meet him. He’s all … had all his Ole Miss stuff on. Had his cap pulled down, because they didn’t want him to catch pneumonia and this type of thing. They put him in the dressing room real quick. There was nothing but excitement. We couldn’t get anything done before the game.”