Instead of the golden ticket, high schools around the nation will be receiving golden footballs from the NFL to mark the 50th Super Bowl.
The league unveiled plans that include sending a gold-colored football to the high school of every player or head coach who played in the big game. The football will have the player's name and the name of the high school. In some cases, the player will go to the school to present the ball in person.
Earlier in the week, I was trying to recall all the East Texans who have participated in the big game and I asked for help.
Dr. Sharon Hill Cranford, of Wichita, Kansas, wrote about former All-Pro offensive tackle Winston Hill, who hails from Gladewater. He attended Weldon High School. Prior to integration, black students attended Weldon High School in Gladewater. His late father, Garfield Hill, was principal of the school.
Hill played 195 games for the New York Jets and earned eight AFL All-Star/NFL Pro Bowl appearances in his 13-year career. The East Texan joined the Jets as a free agent in 1963 after he was selected in the 11th round of the 1963 draft out of Texas Southern University by Weeb Ewbank and the Baltimore Colts. Hill was an All-American at TSU.
During his time with the Jets, Hill was instrumental in helping his team pull off one of the biggest upsets in sports history. With Hill protecting quarterback Joe Namath, the Jets defeated the 18-point favorite Baltimore Colts, 16-7, in Super Bowl III at the Orange Bowl in Miami on Jan. 12, 1969.
Hill is the most decorated honoree in Jets history. He was also a co-captain of the Jets and the player representative for the team to the NFL Players Association. He blocked for such running backs as Emerson Boozer, Matt Snell and John Riggins. Hill ended his career with the Los Angeles Rams in 1977.
Along with Gladewater getting a golden football, it is about time Hill is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His achievements more than qualify him for enshrinement in Canton, Ohio.
Hill's mother is still a resident of Gladewater.
In the early 1990s, Hill used his cooking talents to open Winston Hill's Ribs & Stuff in Centennial, Colorado. Centennial is southeast of Denver near Cherry Creek State Park.
If he cooks as well as he played, we should all make a stop at his restaurant.
SUPER BOWL PLAYERS
Also, there will be a number of footballs sent to John Tyler and Robert E. Lee high schools as well as numerous others around East Texas from Big Sandy (coach Lovie Smith, former coach of the Chicago Bears) to White Oak (Max McGee of the Green Bay Packers).
Some of the players include JT's Ronnie Lee (Miami Dolphins), Aaron Ross (New York Giants), Kendall Hunter (San Francisco 49ers), David Warren (Oakland Raiders) and Jeremy Lane (Seattle Seahawks), and Lee's Matt Flynn (Packers) and Fred Coleman (New England Patriots). Some of the others include Pete Lammons (Jacksonville, New York Jets), 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) and Forrest Gregg (Sulphur Springs, Packers, Cowboys).
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