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Payne Stewart
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Payne Stewart's agent Robert Farley also dies
Payne Stewart dies in plane crash

Payne Stewart's agent Robert Farley also dies

Robert Fraley's association with sports in college was as a quarterback for Alabama. On the professional level he represented some of the biggest names in sports.

Among his clients were NFL coaches Bill Parcells, Bill Cowher, Dan Reeves and Joe Gibbs. There was Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy and New York Mets pitcher Orel Hershiser. From golf there was Payne Stewart.

Fraley, 46, was aboard Stewart's Learjet 35 when it crashed today. They were killed along with another agent and two pilots en route to Texas, where Stewart was scheduled to play in the PGA Tour Championship this weekend in Houston. The plane crashed after flying uncontrolled and off course.

Fraley's father, Charles, said his son and Stewart were good friends who often golfed together and at one time lived near each other in the same Orlando, Fla., subdivision.

"They were real close. In fact, Robert was godfather to his children," Charles Fraley said in a phone interview from his Winchester, Tenn., home.

The elder Fraley knew his son was traveling today to Dallas, and when he heard news reports, he immediately called his daughter-in-law.

"We just figured it out," he said.

Charles Fraley said he would remember his son as "a straight fellow" who had accomplished much in his career.

Parcells declined comment on Fraley's death. They were friends since 1983, when Parcells became a client of Fraley's.

Fraley was nicknamed the "Winchester Rifle" during his career as a quarterback at Franklin County High School. He enrolled at Alabama in 1971.

But shortly after Fraley arrived, coach Bear Bryant switched to the run-oriented wishbone offense. That, combined with a shoulder injury that required three surgeries, hindered his Alabama career.

"He was always a real competitor, and very smart," said Mal Moore, Fraley's position coach at Alabama. "He would have had a great career, if not for the injuries."

As the fourth-string quarterback in 1974, Fraley saw game action against Tennessee when the other three Tide quarterbacks were injured. Gary Rutledge and Richard Todd were on the sidelines in street clothes and Jack O'Rear was injured in the first quarter.

Fraley took over and led the Crimson Tide to a 28-6 win in front of a hometown crowd.

"My memories of him will be of our friendship and of seeing him coming off the field after that Tennessee game," Moore said. "How happy and proud he was, I'll always remember it."

He started the next week against TCU, throwing for two touchdowns and running for another in a 41-3 win.

Alabama coach Mike DuBose, a teammate of Fraley's, said he also remembered the Tennessee game.

"He was a leader," he said. "I vividly remember that game in Knoxville when he led us to victory. His passing is a tremendous loss for the Alabama family."

After earning his law degree from Alabama in 1975, Fraley moved to Orlando to start a practice, eventually becoming chief executive officer of Leader Enterprises Inc.

He also represented several Alabama coaches, including Ray Perkins, Bill Curry, Steve Sloan and Wimp Sanderson.

"He was a tremendously bright, talented young man," said Alabama interim athletic director Finus Gaston, who was a football manager when Fraley played. "It's a tragedy both personally and in the world of athletics."