On Friday night in front of a packed house former NFL and Clinton High School football greats delivered two golden footballs to Principal Dr. Steven Miller. The footballs are the center piece of the National Football Leagues’ Super Bowl Honor Roll initiative, and commemorate the contributions made by players and coaches who have participated in the Super Bowl over the last 50 years.
High Schools across the nation and around the world are receiving the commemorative footballs to honor players and head coaches that have graduated from their schools. The initiative will honor over 3000 coaches and players from over 2,000 high schools that have participated in the Super Bowl. The initiative started over this past summer and thousands of balls will be delivered across the country by current and former NFL players.
Clinton was fortunate to have two players that played on Super Bowl teams during their NFL careers. Willie Parker participated in two Super Bowls as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dennis Owens was a member of the 1986 New England Patriots that advanced to the Super Bowl. Both players were on hand Friday night to deliver Clinton’s footballs to Dr. Miller and their former coaches.
The school used this opportunity to invite back all five of its former players that have had careers in the NFL. Joining Parker and Owens were Jerris McPhail, Leonard Henry, and Ronny Dixon. Current coach Bob Lewis and former coach Bobby Robinson joined with Dr. Miller to accept the commemorative footballs on behalf of Clinton High School.
Former coach Bobby Robinson summed up what the honor meant to him and the community, “this is a long time coming, these guys were all great on the football field and good people, I am biased, I guess, I coached Dennis and he was by far the best player and one of the best young men I have ever been honored to know. Clinton has always been a football town going way back and this is a well deserved honor for the school and the community.”
The former players all expressed their pride in being able to come back home and be a part of the special presentation. Ronny Dixon, who graduated from CHS in 1989 and spent time with the Saints, Eagles, Jets and Chiefs in the NFL said, “It is a huge honor to be able to come back as part of this group. Clinton High School is where it all started and I am just thankful that God gave me the talent to take part in the game.” Leonard Henry, who played for the Dark Horses in the late 1990’s and spent time with the Miami Dolphins added, “this is great for the community, it is great for all of us to be able to be here tonight and recognize all the guys who have played for this program, it is good for the kids to get to see this and be a part of it.”
Jerris McPhail was part of some great Clinton teams in the early 1990’s and spent three years in the NFL with the Dolphins and Detroit lions. McPhail commented on the opportunity to come home and celebrate saying, “it is a great honor to come back and fellowship with the guys that laid this legacy down. This is a great opportunity to motivate the young kids and it is just great for the whole community.” Dennis Owens graduated from CHS in 1978 and spent four years with the New England Patriots, playing in the 1986 Super Bowl against the Chicago Bears. Owens expressed his pride saying, “this is wonderful, to get to come back to my high school and be a part of this program. It is amazing that we have two players that have played in the Super Bowl and then five guys total that played in the NFL, this is just a great honor to be back here tonight.”
Willie Parker played for Clinton in the late 1990’s, graduating in 2000. Parker participated in two Super Bowls during his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers and still holds the record for the longest rushing touchdown in the Super Bowl. Parker said, “This place means everything, Clinton High School, the fans, the coaches, former players. Even these guys with us tonight, they set the standard and gave me a high mark to shoot from. Coming out here tonight seeing the crowd and smelling the hot dogs makes me want to suit up, it is a huge adrenaline rush.”
At halftime when the five former stars gathered at midfield, the crowd stood silent as the former players were introduced, and Owens and Parker handed over the golden footballs to Dr. Miller. The Footballs will certainly find a special place in the school’s trophy case and become a permanent link for the school to these great players and the Super Bowl.
But on this warm November evening, the Dark Horse faithful had one more chance to dote over their heroes and honor their accomplishments, both at Clinton High School and in the National Football League.