Updated August 24, 2018
Our first Football Class Reunion was June 14, 2008, about one year after the publication of ‘The Thin Thirty’. The 2008 Reunion of the 1961-1962 University of Kentucky Football Class was both very Gratifying and Concerning.
‘The Thin Thirty’ is a remarkable book written by Shannon Ragland and published by Set Shot Press in 2007. It is an historical book about the University of Kentucky Football tragedy in 1962, untold and hushed until this book’s publication. Please see ‘The Thin Thirty’ for many of the grueling details and/or see on this website ‘PLOWLINE COACHES, MULES, AND A HUNDRED YARDS OF COTTON’. This report is primarily the pathological survey.
As we organized our first 1961-1962 University of Kentucky Wildcat Football Class Reunion, we began gathering information. Questionnaires were mailed to our teammates and information gathering began.
Concerns about teammates reported experiences 50 Years Ago began to accumulate as teammates returned information for the Reunion.
We realized our teammates suffered morbidity and mortality from the reports submitted. That prompted us to survey our 1961-1962 University of Kentucky Football Team. Some widows and family answered for deceased teammates. Only a handful of teammates out of 48 were never found and mailed. Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated reporter, said from his recollection, it was the “first study of its kind”.
The result was “A Longitudinal and Retrospective Study of The Impact of Coaching Behaviors on the 1961-1962 University of Kentucky Football Wildcats”, Kay Collier McLaughlin, Ph.D., Micheal B. Minix Sr. M.D., Twila Minix, R.N., Jim Overman, Scott Brogdon.
Thus began our research group’s mission to discover the circumstances and pathology that compelled Charlie Bradshaw and his assistants to the vile, tyrannical, brutal, abusive, abnormal Coaching Behaviors that they manifest during 1962.
For many years the 1962 UK Coach Bradshaw brand of commando, win-at-costs football festered deep into my bones. I am so sorry my teammates and others have suffered from his maltreatments and torment for almost 50 years without address.
Too many years my teammates and I remained psychologically ‘shell-shocked’ from Bradshaw ‘lesser player’, ‘only hope’, ‘way out of poverty’, ‘way out of plowing cotton fields, Bear Bryant’ ‘early’ brand of football. Even Bear mellowed and realized his Texas A&M ‘Junction Boys’ errors and maltreatments were wrong.
I was a ‘punch-drunk Joe Palooka’, to some extent. ‘Punch-drunk’ from both psychological and physical jabs and hooks. With age both inflictions festered and worsened, nightmares prevailed, until I confronted his sadistic malbehavior.
My teammates and I were physically and psychologically conditioned like ‘Pavlov dogs’, drilled and repeatedly concussed and dinged-on-the-head to ‘fire-out’ at the ‘drop of a hat’, an instant signal or usually humiliating, derogatory scream.
For some, who were singled out to be “ran-off” (sic), the screams were often followed by coaches’ kicking or head butting the player’s nose (face guards were one bar or no bar in those days), often knocking out or loosening a players’ teeth. The targeted players were doubled down on, knocked to the ground and pounced on by several Coaches delivering blows.
Several coaches often blind-sided, sucker-punched and dropped unsuspecting athletes to the ground, then all jumped the unsuspecting athlete and then with fists beat then, like a cowardly wolf pack would attack. Everyone, to the man, suffered physical brutality and abuse and verbal and psychological maltreatments.
Tough, hard hitting, exhausting football in extreme heat usually didn’t take us down. Unlike today’s players, we were acclimated to heat, because we lived outside, air conditioning wasn’t universal and computers and games were non-existent.
Practicing and playing down to our ‘brain stem’, reacting with “Prehistoric, Mesozoic”, [Jenkins] non-cognitive reflexes, took control. We grew up in tough ‘brain stem’ football. We could go beyond our psychological and physical limits. when within the rules of the game and no intentional harm was intended.
Jenkins wrote a powerful, current article in the Washington Post. [Prehistoric college football coaches are killing players. It’s past time to stop them by Sally Jenkins, August 21, 2018, Washington Post]
Injuries sustained from the legal play of football were often ‘sucked-up’ and ‘played-through’, my teammates and I were accustomed to that, but, emotional and physical maltreatment, which crossed the line and emotional and physical abuse, outside the rules of the game, did bother us; particularly when watching our targeted buddies, horrifically brutalized.
The Bradshaw coaches’ abnormal behaviors confused us players. Our mental concepts of how the game of football should be properly played, as mentored and taught before Bradshaw, were altered. The fundamentals of sportsmanship, love and respect of Coaches were suppressed. Coaches’ disregard for player safety and well-being were bewildering and shocking. We were learning how to play out of fear of the Coach, not for love of the game. The exactly wrong negative motivation.
The Study’s Results: This Study was about 1961-1962 University of Kentucky Football Freshman. The history of our team began with the hope and promise of academic and football success at the University of Kentucky.
Each player had committed to Coach Blanton Collier and his All-Star assistants and the University of Kentucky. But the University of Kentucky failed to fullfil their commitment to our team. Our 1961 UK freshman football class was larger and contained more out of state recruits tan in the past. 8 High School All-America were in the class. Reporters claimed our class was the best ever recruited at UK. This reporter has no way of knowing our rank among other classes.
Instead it became a lifetime of morbidity and mortality for the players, after Coach Blanton Collier was replaced by Charlie Bradshaw. Coach Collier was immediately replaced after the end of the first semester of 1961, at the beginning of the Spring Semester of 1962.
The players had no fore-warning prior to this tragic replacement. None heard of possible uneasiness about the UK coaching staff during our high school decision making time or during the first semester at UK. Electronic media was non-existent.
There was no intervention on our behalf after the abusive Bradshaw saga began. To this day the brutal assaults and mistreatments of the athletes haunt many of the players. The University of Kentucky never admitted to the athletic community their wrong doings and never apologized to the players for their mistreatments and crimes.
Coach Bear Bryant apologized to the Junction Boys a few years after his admitted “pigheaded” abusive mistreatments of his players. Charlie Bradshaw was a disciple of Bear. Bradshaw played for Bear at UK and was an assistant to Bear at Alabama. Bradshaw was not head coaching qualified, like Bear in several or our teammates opinions.
Because of the impact on the health and welfare of the players and the loss of scholarships of the players, the University of Kentucky committed a tragic breech of trust and fiduciary responsibility, when they replaced Coach Blanton Collier with Charlie Bradshaw.
The players, after the replacement, were suddenly faced with a football regime, backed by the University of Kentucky administrators, who had no respect for the players and who did not act responsibly to the players.
Everyone concerned with University of Kentucky football program, from the president of the University down, breached the covenants with the players. They should have respected our football athletes as human beings, acted responsibly for our safety, health and welfare and fostered our scholastic development.
From the studies, it appears that Charlie Bradshaw’s behavior was abusive and sometimes criminal. His malicious behavior affected the players and will continue to affect the players for their lifetimes. The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Anxiety Reactions have affected and will affect the quality and duration each player’s life. The degree of PTSD appeared to be directly proportional to the amount of emotional and physical investment of each athlete.
At the time, football was extremely important to this reporter. My loss of football was equivalent to the extreme sadness experienced from loss of a close family member. Even worse was the shunning by UK fans and alumni in my small home town. Once pleased to see me, thy turned and walked in the opposite direction without a word. It was if I had commuted an unthinkable crime. Of course, they and others did not know the UK football tragic story. We Uk football Athletes were the victims.
The following studies support the cruelty and maltreatment we UK athletes endured.
Some of the assistants appeared to identify with Charlie Bradshaw and his abnormal behavior. Together they acted out Bradshaw’s abuse. He appeared to be maliciously sadistic toward his team according to some of the teammates reports.
In spite of Bradshaw’s malbehavior and the players’ Post Traumatic Stress disorders (PTSD) and Anxiety Reactions and other mental and physical disorders, that were the results of his and UK’s mistreatments, most of the surviving players have become successful in their businesses, professional and personal lives.
“Pulling out” of Bradshaw football was their only hope for success for some teammates. Parents and the athletic community should never chastise an athlete who “pulls out” of a corrupt athletic program. “Pulling out” might save that athlete’s life. That is not quitting.
The successes that resulted from “pulling out” from the Bradshaw regime and moving in other directions from him, have been revealed in the book ‘The Thin Thirty’ by Shannon Ragland. The successes stand as a reminder of sweet revenge for many of the players.
About half of the players had forgiven Bradshaw at the time of our 2008 Reunion. About half had not forgiven Bradshaw and do not intend to forgive him and his assistants. Some can’t even fathom the question.
No player who participated in the study would want Bradshaw to coach their son in Bradshaw’s abnormal behavioral condition, that he exhibited in 1962.
No player embraced Bradshaw’s system of bully-boy, brainwashing brutal abusive coaching method.
FIRST 2008 SURVEY RESULTS:
I. Psychological Athlete Abuse Survey:
The Psychological (Emotional) Athlete Abuses, at the hands of Charlie Bradshaw and his assistants, that were sustained by the last team recruited by Coach Blanton Collier and his assistants, was Post Traumatic Shock Reaction (Disorder), a condition similar to that of Vietnam veterans, according to 2 psychologists close to the University of Kentucky football program in 1962 and professionally experienced with Vietnam veterans.
Their concerns prompted us to survey our 1961-1962 University of Kentucky freshman team. The result was “A Longitudinal and Retrospective Study of The Impact of Coaching Behaviors on the 1961-1962 University of Kentucky Football Wildcats”, Kay Collier McLaughlin, Ph.D., Micheal B. Minix Sr. M.D., Twila Minix, R.N., Jim Overman, Scott Brogdon
100% of the players who responded to the survey and who from recollections of their football experience in 1961-1962 manifest some degree of Post Traumatic Stress Reaction (Disorder) from the physical and psychological athlete abuse from Charlie Bradshaw and assistant coach perpetrators. 100% suffered verbal and psychological (emotional) abuse. Other more serious emotional conditions were evident but not surveyed.
This reporter, Micheal B. Minix, Sr. M.D., was a member of the team. Bradshaw called me into the coaching office on two separate one hour occasions.
He insisted that I, either quit playing football at UK or quit taking pre-med courses. He gave me an ultimatum. Bradshaw, during the last meeting, threw my books toward an open window but the books bounced back into the office. After I gathered my books, Bradshaw told me to get in the corner with God and work it out. Bradshaw and his assistants were always playing the ‘Christ Card’. Not to be disrespectful, but receiving a preaching before a beating seemed somewhat hypocritical to our athletes, who took both in stride and with respect.
As a freshman UK football player, during our freshman season, since during those days the freshman played their own schedule, I was president of the freshman football house, captain of the team, started at quarterback led the team in passing, punting, total offense and interceptions, when sent in on defense for passing situations, maintained a 3.1 GPA and 3.3 GPA for the first and second semesters and was managing both football and pre-med academics very well. [Minix Paced UK Freshmen in Offense for Season, Lexington Herald Leader, Nov 16, 1961]
I could take and took all the rigorous conditioning, practice and play and was successful during the ‘feature bouts’ with only slugging below the belt disallowed, having only been pinned once.’Feature Bouts’ were conducted in the last handball court during the drills. The grueling football drills, including contact without pads were conducted by coaches in the 100*+ handball courts. Each court had vomit boxes with sawdust in the 4 corners. Athletes vomited and passed our frequently. one of my close friends was slammed head-first by the coach into the handball court wall, knocked-out, then dragged by 2 coaches and thrown out into the hallway as inside we continued relentlessly. Another fried said he was thrown all the way outside the facility and awakened in the snow.
This reporter’s high school sport accomplishments are published in the curriculum vitae, work and sport history on this website. If a reader is interested, please see: http://www.cappaa.com/micheal-b-minix-sr-m-d-cv-sports-work-history
So what was on Bradshaw’s mind when he gave me an ultimatum to quit pre-med? It appeared to be his quest for absolute control, manipulation and total commando football. Some believed, when my father excluded Alabama football recruitment, when Bradshaw was in charge of KY recruits, the prohibition of recruitment was the reason. My father attended the University of Alabama in the 1930’s, when he was interested in boxing, the second leading sport in the SEC, and when Bear played, and some wondered if that had influenced dad’s decision. Maybe the Alabama academic program for football athletes was insufficient in my father’s opinion, knowing my interest in pre-med and the reason. I’ll never know for certain.
I got in the corner of my mind with God and did just that. I “pulled out” from Bradshaw football, “bowed my neck” and concentrated on pre-medicine. I graduated ahead of schedule from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in 1968, having been accepted to UK Med School only after 3 years undergraduate.
School curriculum micro-manipulation and career subversion are other twisted forms of athlete abuse.
In my interviews immediately after “pulling out”, the UK football tragedy was sugar coated. I was always taught that the less said and the nicer said…. the better, particularly, when it was during a telephone interview, not knowing who was on the other end of the line. No UK football player who pulled out maligned the coaches at that time. We were young and inexperienced. those were different times.
Pushing back was not common in that era of sports. But after 46 years the truth was told by all.
II. Physical Athlete Abuse Survey
The total population of players on the 1961-1962 University of Kentucky Freshman Football Team was _____48______ at the beginning of the 1961 Fall season.
A total of ___47__players were mailed the questionnaire. One of the players was never found.
47 of 48 (97.9%) of the players or their families were contacted and provided with study questions.
A total of ______24______players responded to the study questionnaire.
_____1___ player was excluded because of random error.
A total of ____23_____players made up the sample population included in this study.
100% of the players were Caucasian.
The average age was ____18 ____ in 1961-1962.
100% of the players were male.
Their religious affiliations were not determined in this survey study.
___63__%__(30 players)__of the original 48 players were from Kentucky.
____37__%__(18 players)__were from outside Kentucky.
A total of ___55_____% team replied with answers to the questions.
A total of ____45____% team did not reply with answers to the questions.
A total of ____20_____% of team families replied with answers to the questions for their deceased member, because they knew the answers. They only answered the questions they knew.
Of the population sample of players who replied to the questions the following were the results:
A total of __100____% of the players in this sample met at least one positive coaching abuse criterion as described in the method. Every player who answered received multiple forms of abuse.
“The physical abuse was so common place (20+ times per player per practice) ……..it seemed the Coaches were gunning for them”, one player said.
100% of the football athletes received no water during conditioning, work-outs and practices.
A total of __21____% were struck by a coach’s fist, or punched one or more times.
__26____% forearmed by coaches one or more times in the face.
___9___% kicked by the coaches one or more times.
___4___% teeth were broken by the coaches fists
___13___% received broken or injured bones
___13___% were head butted by the coaches one or more times in the face.
A total of ___61___% received no medical attention for their football injuries that occurred during practice one or more times. .
A total of ___52___% played while they were injured.
A total of ___52___% had improper medical or surgical treatment
A total of ___9___% were told according to a second opinion that their treatments were improper by the team physicians at the University of Kentucky.
In addition ___30____% offered additional coaches’ mistreatments that were not asked in this survey.
In addition ___9____% offered additional coaches’ physical abuse not asked as a question in this survey study.
Male life expectancy hit a record 75.2 years in 2004, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced.
13 of the 1961 Freshman team members, continued with Bradshaw in the Fall of 1962, according to football program.
One freshman, the last player signed by Coach Collier in late December, 1961, who enrolled in the Spring Semester, January 1962, continued with Bradshaw in the Fall of 1962 as a red shirt.
Another player was attending school on football scholarship but not playing football and not a member of the team in the Fall of 1962. He finished UK having never played football under Bradshaw in an agreement facilitated by basketball head coach, Coach Adolph Rupp.
Only 10 players from the 1961 freshmen team of the 13 were included in the Thin Thirty team picture.
2 Thin Thirty 1961 Freshman who remained with Bradshaw are deceased. Both suffered fatal heart attacks. 4 “Pullout” 1961 Freshman who did not continue with Bradshaw in the Fall of 1962 are deceased.
Football players are generally in good physical condition. Most college football players are taken care of well. Among the 8,961 pro-football players born in the last 50 years, at least 130 are already deceased.
Among 4,382 professional baseball players, 31 are known to have died. That means 1 in every 69 football players is deceased compared to 1 in every 154 baseball players.
14 % of the pro-football players born in the last 50 years are deceased = 1 / 69
11.4 % of the last team recruited by Coach Blanton Collier are deceased. = 12 / 105 players. 6 Upperclassmen and 6 freshmen in the fall of 1961.
27 % of The Thin Thirty are Deceased = 8 / 30
These include both freshmen and upperclassmen.
Their ages now would be about 65-66. (when published 2012)
30 % of The Thin Thirty Upperclassmen are deceased or = 6/20
12.5 % Of the 1961 UK Freshmen Football team are deceased. These include The Thin Thirty Freshmen members + Freshmen “Pull Outs” = 6 / 48
20 % of The Thin Thirty freshmen are deceased = 2 / 10
10.5 % of the “Pull Out” freshmen are deceased = 4 / 38 The percentage deceased for The Thin Thirty Freshmen, who remained with Bradshaw the 1962 season was near double The “Pull Out” Freshmen football players.
THE 2nd SURVEY STUDY RESULTS
The total population of players on the 1961-1962 University of Kentucky Freshman Football Team was _____48______
A total of ___47__players or their families, if the player was deceased, were mailed the questionnaire
_________1_______player was not found.
A total of ______31______players responded
_____1_______ random error was excluded.
A total of ____30________players were included in this survey study sample population.
The following were the questions and how they were answered:
Would you want you son to play football for a coach like Charlie Bradshaw as Bradshaw behaved in 1962 ?
No son ____ 3% or 1 / 30_______
Have you forgiven Charlie Bradshaw for mistreating you?
Yes___46.5 % ____ No___50 %____ N/A___3.5 %__
Are you working on forgiving Charlie Bradshaw?
Yes___14.8%____ No____51.9 % _____
Someone asked me why loud noises shake me; make me flinch, jerk and react. I explained, that even though I am 74 years old, I am still somewhat’shell-shocked’ from Bradshaw football, but not nearly as bad as in 1962. My teammates and I were physically and psychologically conditioned, drilled and repeatedly concussed and dinnged-on-the-head to ‘fire-out’ at the ‘drop of a hat’ an instant signal or cadence. Spearing with our helmet was a common technique. the spearing dings were probably additive to the severe concussion sustained during Tennessee week of practice leading up to the game.
There are 2 persistent messages derived from Bradshaw UK football:
1. Coaches should not Physically and Psychologically (Emotional) mistreat and abuse their Athletes
2. Athlete Victims who suffer from Physical and Emotional mistreatment and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) should:
• Come to grips with the causes of their Abuse and Trauma
• Come to grips with their persistent recurring symptoms
• Become Educated about their Physical and Emotional mistreatment and PTSD
• Employ Anxiety Management; seek advice and instruction.
• Explore ways to cope with the emotional and physiological reactions that occur secondary to re-experiencing the Trauma that is stored in their memory, other internal and external persistent injuries, reminders and situations.
• Revisit the Trauma
• Don’t bury the Trauma in your mind
• Discuss the Trauma with you Teammates, others and professionals
• Pray about the Traumatic Events
• Write a letter to the perpetrator, wad it up, throw it in the garbage and move on
• Personal Forgiveness of the Perpetrators is different from Reconciliation
• Reconciliation can occur when the Perpetrator Apologizes to you directly
• Realize that True Justice is for God alone
• Deal with the Trauma. Otherwise the Trauma will “eat at you the rest of your life”
• Seek professional medical and psychological help if indicated
The sobering facts about my UK football experience are that my obligations to my family, the human race, and the Almighty, as the result of my blessings, are more important, than football.
I am dedicated to the administration of the covenants of my Oath of Hippocrates to all human beings, including Charlie Bradshaw.
Thus my forgiveness of Charlie Bradshaw was the result of being a Christian physician. God gave me the gift and I forgave Charlie Bradshaw. It took many years.
In forgiving Charlie Bradshaw for his transgressions against me, I fulfilled the Gospel of God, as a physician. My forgiveness was from my heart filled with the connection with God, a manifestation of my spirituality.
My practice of medicine has always been from my heart not my billfold. My practice of medicine, one of the 8 fields of knowledge, was one of the main ways I worshiped God. Medicine connected me spiritually with God.
One morning in 2010, after awakening I told my wife that I had forgiven Charlie Bradshaw for abusing me, because I finally realized that he was mentally ill and, as a physician, I must do everything possible to heal him, even after his death. Even though I could not reach his physical being, his soul was within the reach of a physician’s healing prayer.
Then, my wife and I went to the Centenary Methodist Church in Lexington, Kentucky that Sunday to hear my nephew Mark Minix Jr. play the largest pipe organ in Kentucky. He played all the songs for 3 services. We were proud of his performance and amazed by the pipe organ sounds.
During the service the minister preached forgiveness. She used Forest Gump and Jenny as an analogy. Jenny, who had been abused by her father, fell down in front of the house where she had been abused. She began throwing rocks at her old home.
Forest Gump said “there are never enough rocks to throw” at evil, after Jenny ran out of rocks. The minister said, like Jenny, we needed to throw our heavy, burdensome rocks away and forgive our trespassers.
Jenny had been sexually abused, a different form of abuse than the physical and emotional abuse we football athletes suffered. Even so, Abuse and Mistreatment are still Abuse.
After the minister instructed us, while walking out of the of the sanctuary, I tossed a piece of paper into the trash can with the words./
“I forgive Charlie Bradshaw for abusing me in football”. My heavy, burdensome rock was thrown in the trash can.
Since then, I have experienced relief and more peace from the anxieties secondary to Bradshaw’s football Trauma.
Since Bear Bryant, the 2 winningest University of Kentucky Football coaches are Bear Bryant and Blanton Collier. Coach Blanton Collier is winningest coach against Tennessee.
• “Coach Bear Bryant coached Kentucky 1946-1953 seasons. He compiled W-60 L-23 T-5 record in 8 years. “Bryant’s 60 victories are still a UK football record for head coaches. Bryant UK W-68.18%.
• Bryant UK vs Tennessee W-1 L-5 T-2
• “Blanton Collier coached UK 8 years and compiled W-41 L-36 T-3 1954 to 1961.
• Coach Collier is the winningest coach against Tennessee W-5 L-2 T-1.
• Coach Blanton Collier Career at UK W-51.25%
• Coach Blanton Collier Career at Cleveland Browns (after UK) W-76 L-34 T-2 W-69.1%
• Coach Rich Brooks W- 45.3% Coach Joker Phillips W- 35.1%
Charlie Bradshaw (who followed Coach Collier at UK) won 38.6% of his games during his tenure as head University of Kentucky football coach. [Official Site University of Kentucky Wildcats]