The Allstate Sugar Bowl Believes in Champions – Davey O’Brien
Photo Courtesy of the Davey O’Brien Foundation
Above the door to the old football offices at TCU’s Amon Carter Stadium is etched the Latin phrase, “Crede Quod Habeus et Habes” – “Believe that you can, and you will.”
At Tulane Stadium on January 1, 1939, with his team trailing Carnegie Tech, 7-6 in the Sugar Bowl, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Davey O’Brien, channeled that motto – imploring his Horned Frog teammates to do just that, telling them to keep their poise, play like they knew how to play and that they would win the game.
Five plays into the second half, he connected with Durwood Homer for a 44-yard touchdown pass that put TCU back in the lead, although he would again miss the extra point.
O’Brien would go on to make a 20-yard field goal and come up with an interception late in the game to seal a 15-7 victory.
For the day, O’Brien threw 224 yards, a Sugar Bowl record that stood until 1963 and also punted for a 40-yard average.
It was a performance that earned O’Brien a spot in the inaugural Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame.
To fabled sports writer and TCU graduate Dan Jenkins, who, as a child growing up in Fort Worth saw all of O’Brien’s home games, “Davey could do it all. Not just passing but running – he bounced off tackles like a rubber ball. Never got injured and often played 60 minutes.
“His heart was bigger than the whole team and his leadership skills may have been his greatest quality. An amazing player.”
After a short two-year stint in the NFL, O’Brien became a well-respected FBI agent for 10 years. In 1950, O’Brien made another career switch – putting the geology degree he’d earned at TCU to good use as an oil man, working for H.L. Hunt among others before eventually starting his own firm. He was also active in the community with the YMCA and Golden Gloves while remaining a diehard support of TCU until his death in 1977.
“I’m sure that being Davey O’Brien opened doors for him,” his son David Jr. said. “But he was a working oil man. My father was extremely modest. My favorite stories about him are from people who talk about how nice he was.”
“The Sugar Bowl has had a longtime goal of preserving our past,” said Paul Hoolahan, the organization’s chief operating officer. “Most college football fans know about Davey O’Brien the football player, but we want people to know that many former stars have gone on to tremendous success off the field as well.”
From its earliest years, the Sugar Bowl Committee has been honored to provide opportunities for young athletes from around the country, athletes like Davey O’Brien. That’s because, at the Allstate Sugar Bowl, We Believe in Champions.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl Believes in Champions
Champions have long defined the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The list of Hall of Fame athletes who have competed in the annual contest is staggering. But the list of champions extends well past the football game. Since its inception in 1934, the Allstate Sugar Bowl has given opportunities to young athletes in many amateur sporting events.
In late 2016, the Allstate Sugar Bowl published stories on five athletes who competed in Sugar Bowl events and then went on to excellence after their New Orleans’ experiences.
Feature No. 1: Derek Wolfe, Football
Feature No. 2: Bob Cousy, Basketball
Feature No. 3: Patrick Mullins, Soccer
Feature No. 4: Jemima Jelaget Sumgong, Road Racing
Feature No. 5: Janice Davis, Track & Field
This was followed by four additional stories in the fall of 2017.
Feature No. 6: Hal Sutton, Golf
Feature No. 7: Barbara Farris, Basketball
Feature No. 8: Julio Jones, Football/Track & Field
Feature No. 9: Archie Manning, Football
The spring of 2019 brought another segment of featured “Champions”:
Feature No. 10: Shaquille O’Neal, Basketball
Feature No. 11: Aleia Hobbs, Track & Field
Feature No. 12: Sean Tuohy, Basketball
Feature No. 13: Davey O’Brien, Football
Feature No. 14: Haley Moore, Golf