Happy Birthday to the great Charlie Krueger, 79 years young. The pride of Caldwell, Texas and a tough SOB. A pudgy kid as a youngster, Krueger hit a growth spurt and eventually grew into 6'4 frame. Big enough and good enough to catch the eye of one Paul "Bear" Bryant, then coach at Texas A&M.
As a freshman, Krueger didn't make the trip to Junction, so he didn't endure preseason camp under those extreme conditions but he did train under Bryant the rest of the season, no walk in the park. During the summers Krueger worked in the oil fields near Sinton. A&M coaches were so afraid of losing their talented lineman to Texas A&I of all places that they sent teammates down to find him. Krueger wasn't transferring to Kingsville which was bad news for the SWC.
By '56 the Aggies had won the SWC, going 9-0-1. NCAA infractions kept the Aggies from the Cotton Bowl. It just served to make Krueger and the rest mad. In 1957 the Aggie defense, led by Krueger allowed just 50 points in 11 games. The Aggies lost their last three games in 1957 by a combined six points. Not allowing more than nine points in any of their losses.
A&M finished the '57 season ranked 9th in the Country. Krueger was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the 1958 NFL draft. He played for the 49ers from '58 to 1973.
Those were tough times to play the game, team doctors were often instructed to get players on the field at any cost. After his retirement Krueger won a $2.3 million in damages based on his treatment by team physicians and the 49ers including repeated anesthetic injections and questionable steroid injections so Krueger could play through serious knee and other injuries. Team physicians didn't disclose the seriousness of Krueger's injuries and as a result they worsened. Those injuries still effect him today.
Krueger is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. His number 70 was retired by the 49ers as well. It's the least they could do.
Happy Birthday Charlie!