Like all Auburn people it was a shock to hear of Phillip Lutzenkirchen’s passing. It’s hard to put into words the emotion that swept over me when I received the news the former Auburn great was gone. I suppose Offensive Coordinator Rhett Lashlee expressed how most of us felt when he tweeted, “Crushed and without words.”
We all know death is no respecter of persons. Yet when I got the news that Lutz had died in an auto accident, it was like someone had kicked me in the stomach.
Only two other times have I had similar emotions when hearing of the passing of an Auburn Family member. The first was in 1980 when Shug Jordan succumbed to a battle with leukemia. The second was in 2003 when I heard over the radio that legendary Auburn announcer Jim Fyffe had suddenly passed away.
But as much as those hurt – this was different. This was not the way it’s suppose to be. This was a young man barely out of college. When a life of promise is lost at such a young age, it’s always harder to fathom.
There will be many tributes written for Phillip this week. I suspect that most will talk of his gridiron glory. Stories will be told and retold about his fantastic almost unbelievable exploits on the football field. However, his legacy goes further than the touchdowns he scored or the records he holds as one of Auburn’s all-time great tight ends.
He felt blessed to be an Auburn man and he had a way about him that impacted not only the fans but his teammates and his friends and family. They all attest to a compassion that was always interested in helping those around him. Phillip led by example on and off the field.
There have been many testimonies from teammates and coaches to that fact but perhaps Auburn AD Jay Jacobs may have given the most poignant statement when he said Lutz, “Had a strong faith, a big heart, and a burning desire to help others. Phillip was a bright light this world desperately needed and his death leaves a void that can’t possibly be filled.”
He only lived 23 years yet oh what a impact he made in that brief time. He once said, “A life is not important except for the impact it has on others.” By that measure, Phillip Lutzenkirchen’s life was really important.
He leaves an example to all that come behind him of faith, of service, of integrity, and of doing things the right way.
The fans have lost one of their all-time favorite Tigers, Auburn has lost a great ambassador, but more importantly his family has lost a son and a brother.
Our hearts and our prayers go out to them today.
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