Tuesday, February 02, 2016

SPORTS STROY >> JHS gets its second Golden Football

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville became the last of only three schools in the state of Arkansas to receive its second commemorative Golden Football from the NFL on Saturday. Dan Hampton, a 1974 graduate of JHS, a 1985 Super Bowl winner with the Chicago Bears and a 2002 inductee into the NFL Hall of Fame, gave his ball to the school on Saturday.

The Golden Football Program is in recognition of this Sunday’s Super Bowl 50, the gold anniversary of what’s become the most watched single-day sporting event worldwide. The NFL embarked upon this program to help bridge the gap between professional and high school football. Each living Super Bowl winner was given a ball to present to alma mater.

Only Fort Smith Northside and Texarkana also received two commemorative footballs as part of the program. Northside’s Bret Goode won a championship as a reserve lineman for the Green Bay Packers in 1997. Former Grizzly Ravin Caldwell won one in 1987 with the Washington Redskins. Texarkana’s Dennis Woodberry was also on that ’87 Redskins’ team, and Rod Smith won two with the Denver Broncos in 1998 and ’99.

On Oct. 16 of last year, 2005 JHS graduate Clinton McDonald, presented his commemorative ball to JHS during a special ceremony before the Red Devils played Pulaski Academy. McDonald was the starting nose guard for Seattle in 2014 when the Seahawks beat Denver 43-8, becoming the first Arkansas native to win a Super Bowl ring in 15 years.

Hampton and McDonald are the only two former Red Devils whose JHS jersey numbers have been retired.

Along with receiving the commemorative football, recognized schools will also receive a character education curriculum, and will be eligible to apply for high school football grants of up to $5,000. The NFL Foundation has also donated $1 million in support of the initiative.