40 years later, group pays tribute to fallen classmate

Published 12:42 am Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It was a special occasion Friday night at Straughn High School as former recipients of the Craig Franklin Leadership Award were recognized alongside the family members of the late Craig Franklin.

Franklin passed away a year after he graduated high school, in a car accident.

This football season marks the 40th anniversary of Franklin’s senior football season.

A group of Franklin’s teammates established this award to honor the spirit and legacy of Franklin. In this group were Jeff Bailey, Wyatt Sasser, Tim Bracewell, Robert Evers, Robert Page and Tony Brown.

“Craig always worked to become a better player and to make those around him better,” Bailey said. “His main focus was always on the team and he was willing to play anywhere he was needed. Through determination and effort, Craig became recognized by all of his teammates as a leader.”

Bailey said that the group established the award because of Franklin’s strong leadership and untimely death.

“Each year this award is presented to the player or players that share the values that made Craig a great leader,” Bailey said. “Values such as hard work, determination and a willingness to put his teammates ahead of himself. Just as these values made Craig a great leader, they also make each player that has won The Craig Franklin Leadership Award a great leader also. We are glad that so many of our former winners are here to celebrate this award with Craig’s family tonight.”

Bailey said that it was not his idea to bring former recipients on the field, but the Quarterback Club’s.

“Mark Glisson was one of the ones that suggested it,” Bailey said. “This is the first time that we have brought almost all the recipients together, and not only that, but to have Craig’s family on the field with them as well. I haven’t seen a lot of the recipients in years, so it was great to catch up with them.”

Franklin’s family provided the following comments Friday night about their brother.

“Funny, happy, dedicated, enthusiastic, a do-er, a comedian, a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend and a good person,” they said. “These words describe our brother, Marvin Craig Franklin. Craig was a young man with a larger than life personality and a kind and gentle heart. His personality drew you near and kept you close. Craig had a very unique talent for bringing people together whether it be through his music or his love for friends. We truly believe if Craig were here today, he would certainly be here tonight and there would still be a Craig Franklin Leadership Award.”

In memory of Franklin and his leadership qualities, the Franklin family donated pictures of Franklin as well as items from his senior uniform that will be on display in the field house at Straughn High School.

Bailey said that the award is very different from other awards and that he wants to keep it that way.

“This is probably the longest running award the football team receives,” Bailey said. “We have been doing this for 29 years and when we first started we wanted it to be completely our decision who we pick as the winner. The coach is involved a little bit, but in the end, it is our choice and we want to keep it like that. Our group is very close, and it still means a lot to all of us.”

The Craig Franklin Leadership Award is presented at the SHS football banquet at the end of every football season.