Published On: Wed, Jul 21st, 2021

Bobby Bowden, Florida State coaching legend, has terminal condition


Bobby Bowden’s faith and spirit remain strong. 

However, his weakened body is failing him.

Florida State’s legendary football coach — who turns 92 in November — wife Ann and their family announced Wednesday that Bowden has been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition

“I’ve always tried to serve God’s purpose for my life, on and off the field, and I am prepared for what is to come,” Bowden said in a statement shared with the Tallahassee Democrat. “My wife Ann and our family have been life’s greatest blessing.

“I am at peace.”

The Bowden family has also asked for privacy as Bowden deals with his health. 

Bowden’s health has deteriorated after he tested positive for COVID-19 in October 2020.

Former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden speaks before being presented with the Governor's Medal of Freedom from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on April 7, 2021.

Hospitalized in late June for five days, Bowden has struggled to regain his strength. He has been under supervised care and is resting comfortably at his Killearn Estates home. 

“I feel fine but I can’t do much,” Bowden told the Democrat on Monday, July 5. 

Hired from West Virginia in 1976, Bowden posted a 316-97-4 record with two national titles (1993 and 1999) in 34 years at Florida State. He had one losing season — 5-6 during his first year at the school — and was forced into retirement following a 7-6 record in 2009.

LINKS TO BOWDEN STORIES

Bowden — a native of Birmingham, Alabama — won 377 games during his 44-year college coaching career to rank fourth all-time behind John Gagliardi (489), Joe Paterno (409) and Eddie Robinson (408).

Bowden and wife Ann, his childhood sweetheart, have been married for 72 years. The couple has six children, 21 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Three of four sons went into coaching — Terry, 65, was hired by Louisiana-Monroe as its head coach last December. 

The past few years Bowden was slowed by lingering, painful back and hip issues that kept him off the golf course and from walking his neighborhood. He was also one of the country’s most sought-after motivational speakers, sharing football stories and his faith. 

In April, Bowden received the inaugural Governor’s Medal of Freedom from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at the Governor’s Mansion. 

Bowden — a devout Baptist — made his last public appearance on stage in early June as a guest speaker at the Send Luncheon, hosted by the North American Mission Board (NAMB), in Nashville.

“I really enjoyed it — it felt like it was the first time I was out of this house in months,” Bowden told the Tallahassee Democrat following the one-day engagement. 

The unannounced appearance came as Mark Richt, a former assistant under Bowden at Florida State, shared with the attendees how his former boss led him to the Lord.

Before Richt finished his testimony, Bowden was introduced as lights came up on a darkened corner of the stage.

Reach Jim Henry at jjhenry@tallahassee.com.



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