Texas Football Legends Share Powerful Memories

Century in Making That photo shows Mayor Tom getting this afternoon’s Century in the Making activities at Woodrow Wilson High School off to a start as the Observer‘s Robert Wilonsky and his good pal Wick look on. (Wick bailed after about 20 minutes, and former D family member Evan Grant came over to keep “Fingers of Fury” company.)

In the hall right outside Woodrow’s nifty auditorium, the Heisman trophies won by Woodrow alumni Davey O’Brien and Tim Brown were on display, while at one end Michael Irvin was broadcasting his radio show on ESPN, 103.3.  Outside the school, cheer squads from Woodrow, TCU, SMU, and UNT, greeted those who had gathered for the momentous unveiling.

As Brad Sham, who served as the master of ceremonies for the event put it, “There’s nothing that drives us [ in North Texas] like the success of our football teams.” And there was lots to enjoy for football fanatics, especially once Dallas Cowboys legends Tony Dorsett, Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, Daryl Johnston,  and Michael Irvin; University of Oklahoma standout Billy Sims; Craig James; “Mean” Joe Greene of the North Texas football program and the Steelers teams of the ’70s; Tim Brown; and the son of Davey O’Brien took the stage. But I have to say that the most unforgettable remarks of the program came from Abner Haynes of the AFL’s Dallas Texans and North Texas State (now UNT).

Sham asked Haynes about what it was like to integrate the North Texas football team, and Haynes talked about their difficult first game, played in Corsicana, where the crowd was less than welcoming of an integrated visiting squad. “We became a family that night in Corsicana,” Haynes said of himself and his white teammates.

Tim Brown, who later won the Heisman and played for the NFL’s Raiders, was asked about his time on the Woodrow football team. “We were horrible. We went 4-25-1 in my three years.” Still, he has fond memories of his time playing for the school. “I got out of the shower this morning, and I was singing the Woodrow Wilson fight song.”

Greene and Staubach had some friendly back-and-forth about their two Super Bowl match-ups in the 1970s, in which Greene’s Steelers came out on top. They discussed a pivotal play from Super Bowl XIII like the game was yesterday, and it was a reminder of how vividly certain moments get seared into our memories. That’s a great endorsement of the value of putting together a list of the greatest moments, as the Host Committee has done.

It was a fun event, and I know some of you are going to have months of fun pouring over and debating the list that the Host Committee has come up with.

But I have to say, I was almost as thrilled in seeing two guys from the audience as I was any of the people who took the stage. Flight Time and Big Easy of the Harlem Globetrotters, who more importantly were recently on The Amazing Race and were eliminated from the contest because they couldn’t unscramble the letters of the name “Franz” in less than six hours, were in attendance. (The Globetrotters are doing a couple shows down at the AAC on Jan. 30.)

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