Special to The Dallas Examiner
The Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame was founded in 1996 by Dr. Harry Robinson in an effort to honor the achievements by outstanding African American athletes and coaches in Texas.
Robinson – who also founded the African American Museum, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate – has spent a lifetime dedicated to the preservation and recognition of African American accomplishments and milestones.
Concerned that the contributions of many Black athletes had been overlooked, Robinson gathered the support of sports fans, community groups and local foundations and businesses to honor notable Black men and women of the sports world.
From the Negro Leagues to the recently retired, some inductees include: Bill Blair Jr., John “Mule” Miles, Tony Dorsett, Jack Johnson, Earl Campbell, Jethro Pugh, Cynthia Cooper-Day, Greg Ellis, Mark Aguirre and many more.
Boxing Inductee: George Foreman
George Foreman slugged his way to being regarded as among the most powerful and punishing boxers the 20th Century had ever witnessed, with two world heavyweight boxing championships and an Olympic gold medal to verify that tag. A second boxing career in his 40s showed that he even knocked out age for a short period of time.
The Marshall, Texas native battled in arguably the deepest and greatest era in heavyweight boxing lore. The names are legendary: Ali, Frazier, Norton, Holmes, Holyfield, Tyson, Quarry, Chuvalo, Liston, Patterson …
Foreman more than demonstrated that he belonged in that iconic club and for a time stood above them all, documenting a pro record of 76 wins, only 5 defeats, with 68 knockouts (an 84 percent knockout proficiency).
His marquee moment came on Jan. 22, 1973, in Kingston, Jamaica. In spite of a 37-0 record (34 KO), he was a 3:1 underdog to defending heavyweight titleholder and deadly left hook sensation Joe Frazier, who came into the ring 29-0, 25 knockouts. Behind the famous bellowed call by broadcaster Howard Cosell of “Down goes Frazier!” Foreman put Frazier on the canvas not just once but six times inside of two rounds. Famed referee Arthur Mecante called the fight and Foreman possessed the undisputed world heavyweight belt.
“Big George” defended his title twice, including a two-round TKO of Ken Norton, before facing Muhammad Ali at the “Rumble in the Jungle,” in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Republic of Congo) in October 1974. Foreman, however, fell for Ali’s “rope-a-dope” style and was knocked out in the eigth round.
Foreman won the next five fights, but failed to attain a rematch with Ali. When he lost in another upset to Jimmy Young, he announced his retirement.
But even his “Arms Were Too Short to Box With God.”
According to his accounts, he fell ill in the dressing room after the Young loss, feeling he was near death and called out for God. He recovered and eventually became a born-again Christian and an ordained minister during his 10-year boxing sabbatical. He decided to make a comeback in 1987, this time “fighting for God.” It would be the most incredible comeback of perhaps any boxer in history.
The “Punching Preacher” began his comeback in March 1987, at the age of 38, when almost all other boxers had far retired for good. Incredibly, he kept winning and kept going, winning 14 consecutive bouts. He then faced Evander Holyfield in April 1991 for the WBA, WBC and IBF World titles. Although losing in a 12-round decision, he stunned and impressed the boxing world as to how a 42-year old gave such a tough fight to a prime 28-year old Holyfield.
Foreman won three out of his next four fights, then faced WBA and IBF champion Michael Moorer on Nov. 4, 1994. After knocking out Moorer in the 10th round, he went down on his knees at his corner and prayed. At 45 years, 10 months, he became the oldest heavyweight champion in history, and the second oldest in any weight class (behind Bernard Hopkins).
After winning four more fights, he lost his titles to Shannon Briggs (12-round decision) and retired for good, less than two months away from his 49th birthday.
Foreman overcame a troubled childhood out of Marshall, Texas’ Fifth Ward, dropped out of school, joined the Job Corps and moved to California, where he discovered boxing. He compiled a 16-4 amateur record, won the national AAU championship and qualified for the 1968 Olympic boxing team in Mexico City.
He reached the gold medal fight and pummeled Jonas Cepulis of the Soviet Union, forcing the referee to stop the fight in the 2nd round. After his victory, Foreman courageously expressed his American patriotism when he stepped back into the ring and acknowledged audiences on all sides with a small American flag.
Now a respected minister, entrepreneur, in-demand boxing commentator, motivational speaker and spokesperson for several products, George Foreman inspires the world how to fight and win both in the ring and in life.
Other 2017 inductees are:
Coaching: C.H. Collins (Posthumous)
The late Curtis H. Collins Sr. is proudly remembered as a coaching and administrative legend by virtually the entire Denton Independent School District community. The impact he made on so many lives – black and white – has been greatly recognized.
Collins moved to Denton in 1954 and became the football, basketball and track coach for the then-all Black Old Fred Moore High School Dragons. Over a 13-year period, his teams won consistently, taking home seven district championships and going to four state playoffs.
Denton has since opened up a new Fred Moore High School.
In 1967, Collins was credited with helping Fred Moore High School make a delicate transition when it integrated into Denton High School. For helping make the integration successful, Collins was awarded the appointment of Dean of Men at Denton High, while continuing his coaching.
Two of Collins’ players – Carl Garrett and Don Woods – went on to enjoy successful careers with the NFL. Garrett won Rookie of the Year and AFL All-Star honors with the Boston Patriots in 1969. Woods won Rookie of the Year with the San Diego Chargers in 1974.
Collins hailed out of Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas, where he played sports and sang in the college choir. It was singing that brought C.H. and his wife, Esta, together. The two were married for 54 years and had four children.
Collins performed in both positions as a coach and Dean of Men at Denton High School until his retirement in 1986. He died in 1996, at the age of 76.
Never to be forgotten, in 2004, Denton Independent School District’s new athletic facility – I including a 12,000-seat stadium – was named the C.H. Collins Athletic Complex to honor his longtime service at both Fred Moore and Denton High School.
Collins will long be remembered as one of Denton Independent Public Schools’ legendary treasures.
Track & Field: Audrey Reid-German
Audrey Reid-German, from Jamaica, was a consistenst formidable competitor in the national and international track and field arena, which included competing in 3 Summer Olympics. At whatever level she competed, she brought honor, distinction and recognition to both her homeland and Texas Women’s University’s track and field program in Denton.
Reid-German specialized in the high jump but also ran the 100-meter hurdles and the 4×100 meters relay. Much of her success came with events held by the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women and the AAU.
Hailing from Bunkers Hill, Trelawny, in Jamaica, Reid captured the 1971 and 1972 AIAW high jump championship and placed third in the 100-meter hurdles in 1972. She parlayed her 1972 performance by winning all three AIAW high jump championships (state, regional and national) and winning the national AAU title in the high jump.
In 1973, an accidental injury while weightlifting negatively affected Reid-German’s lift ability. She temporarily skipped the high jump and joined TWU’s 4×100 meter relay. She anchored that relay team to the AIAW, AAU and United States Track and Field Federation national championships in 1974.
Enrolling at TWU in 1971, Reid-German ran under head coach Dr. Bert Lyle, who had taken the track program to national prominence. Reid-German had already represented her home country and competed in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, at the age of sweet 16. She had also competed in the 1967 Pan American Games, finishing 3rd in the 4×100 meters relay (with Vilma Charlton, Una Morris and Carol Cummings) and sixth in the high jump. She followed by finishing 2nd in the 1971 Pan American Games, once again, in the high jump.
Reid-German returned in 1975, in her senior season, and won the high jump at the AIAQ state, regional and national championships with a personal best 6 feet, 1 1/2 inches (1,855 meters). All the while, she went on to also compete in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany and the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.
After graduating from TWU, Reid-German returned to Jamaica, coaching track and organizing track events there. In 1976, she became the director of the Physical Education Department at St. Elizabeth Technical High School until 1978. She returned to TWU and acquired her Master’s Degree in Health and Human Resources in 1982.
In 2002, Reid-German was inducted into the TWU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Track & Field: Carlette Guidry
Carlette Guidry soared as one of the most visible, renowned and preeminent collegiate and international track and field sprinters from the late 1980s through the 1990s. The Houston native captured 2 Olympic, 1 World Championship and 3 Pan American Junior gold medals, along with 12 NCAA titles and broke records with regularity.
Guidry teamed with Evelyn Ashford, Michelle Finn-Burrell, Esther Jones and Gwen Torrence to win gold in the 4×100-meters relay at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, with a blistering time of 42.11 seconds.
With Celena Mondie-Milner, Chryste Gaines and Gwen Torrence, Guidry raced to another gold medal, also in the 4×100-meters relay at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.
In 1996, Guidry participated in heats with the 4×100-meters team consisting of Chryste Gaines, Gail Devers, Inger Miller and Gwen Torrence, all who took home the gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
In 1986, a 17-year old Guidry got the trifecta at the Pan American Junior Games in Winter Park, Florida, winning the 200-meter dash, long jump and 4×100 meters relay.
Guidry is also a 2-time United States champion in the 200-meter dash (’94 Outdoor, ’95 Indoor, ’96 Outdoor). She won the U.S. 60-meter dash title in 2000 and the 100-meter U.S. championship in 1991.
Collectively, in International competition, Guidry won:
1 Bronze medal in the 60-meter dash at the ’95 World Championships;
4 other Top Ten finishes in Olympic and World Championship competition;
6 Silver Medals in the 200- and 60-meter dashes in various U.S. Indoor Championships;
2 Bronze Medals in the 200 meters in the U.S. Outdoor Championships – 1 in ’96, 1 in ’98.
Running for the Texas Longhorns from 1987 to 1991, Guidry snared 8 individual Indoor and Outdoor NCAA crowns in the 55-, 100- and 200-meters and the long jump, combined with 4 more Indoor and Outdoor NCAA titles, in the 4×100- and 4×400-meter relays.
Guidry is a 23-time All-American. She was a superstar high school track star as well. In her junior year at Houston Sterling, she scored 43 points at the state track and field meet and placed second alone in the standings.
With former teammates Cynthea Rhodes and Tamela Saldana, she founded the Athletic Achievement and Development Academy, which concentrates on developing the academic, professional and athletic skills of area athletes from ages 8 through 18.
Her incredibly long list of awards include:
1999 Penn Relays Outstanding Achievement Award Winner;
1992 Babe Zaharias Award Winner as nation’s top amateur female athlete
1991 Honda-Broderick Award Winner as Nat’l Track & Field Athlete of the Year
Southwest Conference Athlete of the Decade
Member of SWC All-Decade Team
Induction into the Texas Track and Field Coaches Hall of Fame (Class of 2014)
Track & Field, Coaching: Orien Brown
Whether it was leaving runners behind in the dust as a track athlete or instilling powerful elements into other athletes as a coach, Orien Brown became the epitome of excellence.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, it was a track scholarship to Texas Southern University that brought Brown to the Lone Star State, where she stayed to build a behemoth high school track dynasty.
Brown was selected Outstanding Female Athlete in each of all of her four years at TSU, chiefly because of her habit of breaking and setting meet records in every event she participated. That included running a wind-aided 10.3 at the TSU Relays in the 100-yard Dash and a 10.4 in the same event at the Texas Relays. She enjoyed equal success as part of the 4×100, 4×200 and 4×400 relay teams. Her 10.4 at the Texas Relays still holds as a world record as track and field discontinued the yard-measured races and transitioned completely to the metric-system events.
In 1971, Brown’s 4×100-meter relay team set an American record with a time of 45.6 seconds. She qualified for the Pan American Games in Cali, Columbia, competing in the 100-meter dash and the 4×100 relay. Her 11.4 seconds in the 100-meters was that event’s fastest time in the world that year.
In 1972, Brown was awarded Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year by the nationally renowned 100% Wrong Club in Atlanta, presented to her by the late, great Jesse Owens.
After marrying her college sweetheart, Tommy Brown and having three children, Orien sort of stumbled into coaching when she began training her daughter in track and field. She started as a volunteer coach, then part time, before being hired as the boys’ and girls’ track coach at Bishop Dunne Catholic High School in Dallas.
The rest is history.
Between 1990 and 2002, Brown amassed 12 Girls’ State Track and Field Championships, 14 Girls’ District Track titles, 6 Boys’ State crowns and 6 Boys’ District titles.
She was named a Coach of the Year by ESPN.
Brown didn’t stop there. She then went to Dallas Skyline High School to coach the Girls’ track squad. After 2 regional championships and a couple of State runner-up finishes, her team kicked out 3 consecutive State titles, 2008-10.
Brown has also been inducted into the TSU Sports Hall of Fame. Her philosophy of looking at coaching as more of a ministry has led to her to not only producing great track athletes, but also outstanding young men and women.
Track & Field: Verida Walter-Taplin
Verida Walter-Taplin blazed the running tracks throughout Dallas, the states of Texas and Kansas, the Mid-West and the entire country and has also tutored an abundance of other track stars to do the same.
Walter-Taplin also excelled in volleyball and basketball at Dallas Carter High School (All-Metro and All-District in basketball), but eventually focused on her true love of track and field. She helped the Cowboys win the State and Regional championships in 1988 and finish as State runner-ups in 1989. She ran in both the 4×100 and 4×400 meter relay teams, the Long Jump and Triple Jump, but it was the hurdles where she shined the most.
In 1989, she placed first in the Texas Relays in the 110-meter hurdles with an impressive time of 14.26 seconds and went on to be one of the top high school girl’s hurdlers in the country. Recruited by numerous colleges, she chose Kansas State University.
Walter-Taplin shined as a 3-year letterman in Manhattan, winning in several meets and breaking several meet records in both the hurdles and as part of the school’s sprint-relay teams.
Walter-Taplin returned to the Dallas area after college and began coaching at Trinity Christian Academy in Cedar Hill. There, she helped tutor several athletes in both performing well in track and helping them gain college scholarships in the sport. Among her most prized pupil was Jason Richardson, who went on to hold the third best time for a high school athlete in the 400-meter dash and later captured a gold medal in the 110-meter hurdles at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, then take home the silver medal in the same event at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Other star tracksters Walter-Taplin has worked with include Bria Love of DeSoto, who helped University of Texas-El Paso win the Conference USA track title in 2015, Alexis Griggs, Janesia Warren and others.
Now having coached at a variety of schools and clubs, Verida Walter-Taplin has earned a strong reputation as a Hurdler Development Coach, who masterfully introduces the basic techniques of hurdling to several athletes during the spring and summer seasons. She has spreaded her love and passion for track and field to touch the lives of hundreds of aspiring runners over the years.
Football: Byron Williams
Byron Williams is a living shining example of an athlete who not only succeeded in playing professional football but has also traveled beyond the playing stage into other critical areas of the sport.
As a potent wide receiver, Williams’ stardom at Texarkana’s Liberty-Eylau High School earned him a full scholarship to play with the University of Texas-Arlington Mavericks for four seasons. He was drafted in 1983 by the Green Bay Packers, but ended up with the New York Giants, playing under head coach Bill Parcells for three seasons.
Williams went on to play consistently with the British Columbia Lions and the Ottawa and Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, along with the Orlando Thunder, New York/New Jersey Knights and Baltimore Stallions of the World League of American Football.
With Orlando in 1991, Williams caught 59 passes for 811 yards and 11 touchdowns. His numbers throughout his entire 13-year career: 300 passes caught for 5,079 yards and 27 touchdowns.
After his playing days, Williams has forged a highly multi-faceted football enterprise off the gridiron. As President of BW Resources, Inc., and President of the NFL Players Association’s Dallas office, he represents over 500 current and retired professional athletes and partners with hundreds more young athletes, coaches, community sports leagues and sports-related businesses and organizations. Williams provides them all with an enormous array of valuable resources, programs and critical services that maximizes their own respective abilities in the sports industry.
Also, Williams, in partnership with other current and former pro athletes, tutors, coaches and counsels up to 120 young people at his annual Byron Williams Youth Football MiniCamp & NFL Weekend, held every summer at his hometown of Texarkana, Texas.
From playing to coaching, counseling and managing delicate affairs in football, Williams is a story of one who has made his mark and achieved in every facet of the game.
Football: Dexter Bussey
Dexter Bussey was well-known and highly respected as a dogged, determined, unyielding and selfless workhorse of a duo-threat running back for a stellar 11-year period with the Detroit Lions and, before then, with the University of Texas-Arlington Mavericks. He became the first Lion to rush for over 5,000 yards in his career and is still considered one of the greatest and beloved running backs in franchise history.
Bussey’s 5,105 total rushing yards from 1974-1984 (on 1,203 total carries, 18 TDs) remains third in the annals of the Detroit Lions, only one yard behind Billy Sims and behind the all-time leader, Barry Sanders, both of whom are also Heisman Trophy winners. He complements those numbers with also making 193 catches out of the backfield for 1,616 and 5 more TDs.
Bussey’s on-field leadership of being the team’s leading rusher in 1975, 1976, 1978 and 1979 helped pull the Lions from the basement of the NFL standings to solid respectability. He was selected the team’s MVP in 1975 and, in 1981, was chosen a “Michiganian of the Year” by the Detroit News and Lions Man of the Year by a vote of the fans.
Bussey proved to be the consummate team player in 1980, when he agreed to move to fullback to make room for Billy Sims, both the Lions’ and NFL’s No. 1 draft pick. He still rushed for 720 yards, averaging 5.0 yards per carry, and hauled in 364 yards receiving.
After starring at Dallas John Kennedy High School, Bussey first signed to play college football at Oklahoma, but transferred to the University of Texas-Arlington and became a deadly triple-threat player, producing in rushing, receiving and punt and kickoff returns. He totaled 1,908 rushing yards in three seasons, averaging 4.4 yards per carry and scoring 15 touchdowns. In his senior year he gained 1,556 all-purpose yards, the best in the Southland Conference and No. 8 in the nation.
Bussey was drafted in the third round, becoming UTA’s highest drafted player in the football program’s history.
Bussey’s excellent work ethic, passion for the game and commitment in the community still makes him a highly valued Detroit Lion and UTA Maverick football alumni.
Football: Eddie Bell
Waco product Eddie Bell glowed brilliantly as the pride of the Big Sky Country following a prolific college football career with the Idaho State Bengals and went on to become a dependable and sought-after receiver for the great Joe Namath while playing for the New York Jets in the NFL.
Bell remains one of the top wide receivers in Idaho State football history, evolving into a first-team All-American in 1969, as well as being a two-time first-team All-Big Sky Conference selection. Bell still holds the school record for catching 30 touchdown passes over his 3-year tenure and his 2,676 career yards reception is 2nd in Bengals lore.
Bell’s 3,341 all-purpose yards is 3rd all-time in school history and his 172 receptions is 5th.
Bell caught the attention of the nation in his 1969 senior year with 96 receptions for 1,522 yards and 20 touchdowns, one of the best single-season performances by a wide receiver that year in all of college football. The national attention given to Idaho State caused the school and the city of Pocatello to name Nov. 22, 1969 as Ed Bell Day. He would later be inducted into ISU’s Ring of Honor.
But Bell also caught the attention of the New York Jets who drafted him in the 9th round in 1970. He made the most in his first starting opportunity in a game against the Baltimore Colts when he grabbed 12 passes from Namath in one game, tying a club record with Hall of Famer Don Maynard and Art Powell.
Bell played six seasons with the Jets, catching 118 passes for 1,774 yards and 12 touchdowns. He ended his playing career with the San Diego Chargers.
In 2016, Bell was inducted into the Prairie View Interscholastic League Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He was a standout running back at Waco’s George Washington Carver High School and considered one of the state’s best high school players. At Idaho State, he also ran track and was a Big Sky Conference champion in the 220-yard dash.
Football: Eric Dickerson
Eric Dickerson commanded the gridiron, conquering all three career phases – high school, college and the NFL – thus, elevating himself to the stature of being recognized as one of the most prolific running backs in the second half of the 20th Century to step onto the field.
He was both power and grace personified, illuminating football fans with his near-patented upright running form with long, yet strong strides, which made him deceptively fast, often fooling defenders who thought that they could catch him until he was 10 yards out front, heading to the end zone.
NFL running backs have come and gone over the past three decades attempting – yet unsuccessfully – to break Dickerson’s two marquee NFL rushing achievements: His 1,808 rookie season rushing record in 1983 with the Los Angeles Rams; and his 2,105 overall single-season rushing mark in 1984, also with the L.A. Rams.
Dickerson compiled 12 100-yard games, including two 200-yard games in 1984; and nine 100-yard games in 1983.
In addition to a total of eight 1,000-yard rushing seasons, including 1,821 with the Rams in 1986 and 1,659 yards with the Indianapolis Colts in 1988, he amassed 13,259 yards and scored 90 touchdowns over an 11-year period, putting him 7th on the all-time list.
In 1989, he passed the 10,000-yard mark, becoming the fastest player ever to do so (91 games), On Jan. 6, 1986, he rushed for 248 yards against the Dallas Cowboys in a 20-0 win, a single game playoff rushing record that still stands today.
Dickerson was a 6-time Pro Bowler, an NFL Offensive Player of the Year (1986), a 4-time NFL single-season rushing champion (1983,’84, ’86, ’88) and selected to the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade Team.
He came to the NFL from an amazing campaign with the Southern Methodist University Mustangs, playing from 1979-82, helping pull the school from the doormat of the Southwest Conference to SWC champions and national championship contenders.
First sharing running duties with Craig James, Dickerson eventually got most of the carries. He rushed for 1,428 and 1,617 yards in his junior and senior years respectively for a career total of 4,450 yards on 790 carries, 48 touchdowns and a 5.6 yards-per-carry average (7.0 his senior year). He broke Earl Campbell’s conference records in rushing yards and carries, tied Doak Walker’s record in touchdowns and was selected 1st Team All-American.
Dickerson finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting, behind winner Herschel Walker and runner-up John Elway.
At SMU, he was a blue-chip sensation, discovering and crafting his instincts as a running back. By his senior year, he rushed for 2,642 yards, with 37 touchdowns, led Sealy to the state high school Class 2A championship with an undefeated 15-0 record and was named a 1978 Parade Magazine All-American. He ran 9.4 seconds in the 100-yard dash on the track team before focusing on football.
The Rams have retired Dickerson’s jersey number 29. He has been inducted into the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor. And, as a pinnacle, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, on his first ballot, in 1999.
Football: Johnny “Lam” Jones
His name is Johnny “Lam” Jones, but the “J” and the “L” in his name could have easily stood for “Jet Lightening.”
Jones’ blinding speed was the main factor in his athletic repertoire that took him through a four-stage career and which elevated him to legendary status.
Jones’ world-class pinnacle achievement came during the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada. He had to replace young sprint sensation Houston McTear on the USA 4×100-meter relay team, after McTear tore his Achilles tendon during the Olympic Trials. Running second on the team consisting of Harvey Glance, Millard Hampton and Steve Riddick, the team ran away with the gold medal, defeating silver-medalist East Germany and bronze-medalist, the Soviet Union. Jones also finished 6th in the 100-meter dash.
Jones came out of Lampasas, Texas, where he was followed by an incredible achievement during his high school track career. Running anchor for the Class 3A Lampasas High School mile relay team at the U.I.L. State Track and Field Meet, Jones took the baton in last place, 40 to 60 yards behind the leaders – the distance, depending on who you talk to. According to legend, Jones opened up the throttle on his quarter-mile leg, caught up and passed up the entire field of runners for an incredible come-from-behind victory. To this day, the story has taken on mythical proportions.
Jones went on to both play football and run track for the University of Texas Longhorns, switching from running back to wide receiver in football. He soon became known as a big-play, all-purpose threat. While averaging 28 receptions per season, he also averaged 18.9 yards per catch with 14 total touchdowns. In 1978, he returned a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown against SMU. He accumulated 3,042 all-purpose yards and became only one of three Longhorns in history to have both rushed for and received for 100 yards in a game.
Jones was drafted by New York Jets with the second overall pick in the 1980 NFL Draft and was signed and signed a $2.1 million contract – the first NFL contract worth over a million dollars. He played with the Jets from 1980-84 and caught 138 passes for 2,322 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Jones was nicknamed “Lam” by his coach Fred Akers at the University of Texas, using the short form of his hometown of Lampasas, to differentiate him from teammate Johnny “Ham” Jones, who was from Hamlin, Texas.
Jones was inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Texas Track and Field Coaches Hall of Fame in 2013.
Football: Kenneth Burrough
Ken Burrough regularly struck holy terror in the hearts of the best defensive backs in football, accomplished through a distinguished 12-year career in the NFL, following a splendid campaign at Texas Southern University. Playing mostly with the Houston Oilers, the two-time Pro-Bowler was a constant and dangerous deep threat wide receiver, who chunked up big yards almost every time he touched the football.
Burrough amassed 421 receptions for 7,102 yards and 49 touchdowns, with a 16.9 yards-per-catch average. A remarkable 29 of his 49 touchdown passes went for more than 40 yards.
Although a clear and present danger going deep, Burrough could also go up the middle for a catch and was very efficient on 3rd down plays. His best season was 1975, when he pulled in 53 catches for 1,063 yards and averaged 75.9 yards a game. The reception yardage and per-game average were No. 1 in the NFL that year.
Burrough played on the popular “Luv Ya Blue” Houston Oilers team. Consisting of himself, head coach Bum Phillips, running back Earl Campbell, quarterback Dan Pastorini, defenders Curley Culp, Elvin Bethea, Robert Brazile and others, they turned a chronic losing franchise to Super Bowl contenders, reaching the AFC Championship games in the 1988 and 1989 seasons, before losing both times to Joe Greene and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Coming out of Jacksonville, Florida, Burrough ventured to play his college ball for the Texas Southern Tigers, acquiring a total 138 passes for 1,912 yards, including 61 catches for 1,078 yards his junior year. By his senior year in 1969, he was a consensus All-American, named by the Sporting News and Time Magazine.
He was drafted in the first round (10th overall) by the New Orleans Saints and played his rookie year there before going to Houston for the remainder of his career.
Burrough was the last NFL player to wear the jersey number 00, after the NFL decided to discontinue allowing players to wear the number. He, along with Oakland Raiders center Jim Otto, benefited from a grandfather clause so that they could wear the number through the rest of their careers.
But, let’s be clear: Burrough did not need to wear 00 to make his presence known on the field; he let his playing do the talking; and the defense always noticed him.
In 2016, Ken Burrough was inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
Golf: J.W. White
Well before Tiger Woods, there was J.W. White, who roamed the links in dominate fashion within his own golfing circles throughout the nation’s southwest region and beyond. He maintained such high status as an exemplary ambassador to the sport and as one of North Texas’ most respected golfing instructors, inspiring many other passionate linksters.
Soon after graduating from Dallas Lincoln High School, White teed off his golfing career in 1955, with several Top-Ten finishes, including winning the Lone Star Open championship in Houston. His success continued into the late 1960s, culminated in 1967 by becoming the first Black golfer to qualify in the Southwestern Open and posting the lowest 36-hole score among all qualifiers. He followed in 1968 with victories at the Central States Tournament in Oklahoma City and the Bronze Open in Tulsa.
1969 was a marquee year for White, finishing 4th in Cleveland, 5th in Knoxville, 8th in the Lem Barney Open in Detroit, 13th in Atlanta and competing in the PGA Sectional Tournament in Oklahoma City.
Making a successful transition, White achieved another critical first in 1971, when he was appointed Assistant Golf Pro at Dallas-owned Cedar Crest Golf Course by Head Pro Dennis Lavendar. He became the first Black golf course pro in the entire Southwestern region of the country.
White was first bit with the golf bug as a young caddie at Cedar Crest, often working alongside his boyhood friend, the legendary Lee Elder, who went on to become the first African American to qualify for and play in the Masters Tournament in 1975 and is a Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame Inductee, enshrined in 2001. Both White and Elder worked at golf courses during when they all had strict “whites only” policies for their patrons. But they never allowed for their love and fire for the sport to dim and made the most of whatever opportunities came their way.
White’s appointment as a golf pro at Cedar Crest paved the way for other Black golf pros, such as Leonard Jones and Maulana Dotch, both past Texas Black Sports of Hall of Fame inductees.
J.W. White continues serving as a valuable ambassador for the sport.