The eyes of the country are once again on East Texas, as Patrick Mahomes leads the Kansas City Chiefs into the big game Sunday for the second straight year.
One national outlet contacted us this week for some photos of Mahomes at Whitehouse High. During the conversation, the person said, “You must have had a huge parade last year in East Texas to celebrate a Super Bowl hero. That must be a rare feat.”
A simple conversation starter during a quiet pause of a phone call while looking for a photo turned into History 101: East Texas Style.
“Max McGee, sir.”
Max McGee, who was born in Overton and played for White Oak, became a legend in 1949 when he set the national high school record for yards in a season with 3,048. He was on several World Championship teams in the NFL with the Green Back Packers, including the first Super Bowl.
Not only did McGee play in the first Super Bowl, he caught the first touchdown in Super Bowl history, a 37-yard catch from Bart Starr. McGee finished with seven catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
East Texas earned a seat at the adult table for the Super Bowl feast 54 years ago.
After McGee was in the first two Super Bowl’s, the Jets had an East Texas connection. It continued over the years, from large schools to small schools.
Byron Hunt followed McGee from White Oak to the Super Bowl. Daingerfield had Thomas Everett and David Whitmore.
Robert Newhouse with the Cowboys ... the name and schools go on and on, Longview, Pine Tree and both Tyler schools.
For six straight years, a Tylerite was a member of a team taking part in the Super Bowl.
The streak of Tylerites in the big game includes:
Super Bowl XLV (Feb. 6, 2011 in Arlington) - Matt Flynn (Robert E. Lee) of the Green Bay Packers;
Super Bowl XLVI (Feb. 5, 2012 in Indianapolis) - Aaron Ross (John Tyler) of the New York Giants (he also played in the Super Bowl in 2008);
Super Bowl XLVII (Feb. 3, 2013 in New Orleans) - Kendall Hunter (John Tyler) of the San Francisco 49ers;
Super Bowl XLVIII (Feb. 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey) - Jeremy Lane (John Tyler) of the Seattle Seahawks;
Super Bowl XLIX (Feb. 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona) - Jeremy Lane.
Then in 2016, Teddy Williams, a defensive back for the Carolina Panthers from Tyler, helped ensure his team is competing in Super Bowl 50 when he recovered a fumble in the NFC Championship Game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Other Tylerites who have taken part in the Super Bowl include JT’s Ronnie Lee (Miami Dolphins), JT’s David Warren (Oakland Raiders) and REL’s Fred Coleman (New England Patriots).
There have been a number of East Texans who have been in the Super Bowl - from Big Sandy’s Lovie Smith (Chicago Bears coach) to McGee.
Some of the other players include Winston Hill (Gladewater, New York Jets), Pete Lammons (Jacksonville, New York Jets), Billy Ray Newsome (Jacksonville, Baltimore Colts), Keavon Milton (Canton, Seahawks), Wade Wilson (Commerce, Dallas Cowboys), Jermichael Finley (Diboll, Packers), Mike Clark (Longview, Dallas Cowboys), Raymond Berry (Paris, coach of the New England Patriots), Thomas Everett (Daingerfield, Cowboys), Maury Buford (Mount Pleasant, Bears), Forrest Gregg (Sulphur Springs, Packers, Cowboys) and Stanley Richard (San Diego Chargers).
Last year, as the San Francisco 49ers were leading the Chiefs, Elkhart’s Jeff Wilson Jr. was leading the way as the running back. Mahomes took over in the second half and won the game and the MVP honor.
Mahomes followed it up with another historic season and has a chance to “run it back,” as the Chiefs say, and win back-to-back NFL titles.
This week another batch of East Texas high school football players signed scholarship offers to play at some of the best Division I colleges in the nation.
They also look up to Patrick Mahomes. And they picked a perfect role model.
Mahomes has represented his community, his family and Kansas City with class.
As we cheer Mahomes on Sunday, everyone feels a small part of pride because of the East Texas connection.
And thanks to the incredible pool of talented athletes and coaches, East Texas will leave a mark on the Super Bowl another LIV years.