December, 06 2022
A flat tire made all the difference for Woodrow Lowe. The Hall of Fame Alabama linebacker grew up not far from Auburn as a child in Phenix City. He recounted for Bama Online that he intended to visit Auburn, but a flat tire prevented him from getting to the campus. Instead of visiting the Plains, Lowe chose Alabama and embarked on a remarkable run.
In four years, Lowe helped Alabama go 43-5, win four SEC titles, and appear in four bowls. Lowe never knew what it was like to finish out of the top ten in the polls and was first-team All-America three times. He finished with 315 career tackles including an Alabama record 134 in his 1973 sophomore season.
Ironically, Lowe’s Alabama career was bookended by transportation issues. As he was paying for incidentals at the team hotel the day of the Sugar Bowl, Lowe noticed the team bus leaving without him. Rather than incur the wrath of Bear Bryant for being late, Lowe threw cash and his room key on the counter and sprinted down the street after the bus. “Fortunately, it (the hotel) wasn’t very far from the Superdome,” Lowe said. “When the bus pulled up, I was pretty close to it.” The unexpected jog just got Lowe warmed up, as he and his defensive teammates limited Penn State to 57 yards passing in a 13-6 victory.
Lowe was drafted in the fifth round by the San Diego Chargers. When notified his star linebacker went relatively late, Bear Bryant said: “Fifth round? That’s like getting a fifty-dollar gold piece for fifty cents.” Lowe made good on San Diego’s investment, playing for eleven seasons. He had a nose for the ball, intercepting 21 passes and returning four for touchdowns. His career was recognized by both teams he played for. Alabama elected him into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Chargers named him to their 50th Anniversary Team. Lowe was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009. It makes one wonder what would have happened if his trip to Auburn went as planned.