NFL to honor Rodney Thomas

Contributing editor
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GROVETON– Groveton High School will host a presentation at 2:30 p.m. on Monday in the gymnasium that will honor one of its most celebrated alumni.

A gold football is to be presented to the Groveton Independent School District from the NFL to honor the late gridiron legend Rodney Thomas, who began his phenomenal athletic career as a Groveton Indian. Thomas, who died in 2014, will be honored by his widow Leigh, his son, mother and brother, all who will be on hand at the ceremony on behalf of the NFL.

According to Kathleen Cockrell of GISD, some of Thomas's former coaches will be present to speak about Thomas and his prowess as an athlete, including former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum.

The presentation of the golden football is part of the Super Bowl High School Honor Roll program, which celebrates high schools and communities that have contributed to Super Bowl history. Thomas, who had a hugely successfully collegiate career as an Aggie running back, also played in the NFL for the Houston Oilers in 1995. As a rookie, he was one of only 19 players in the AFC to finish with 1,000 or more combined yards from scrimmage. His rushing total at that time was second only to Oiler legend Earl Campbell. Thomas stayed with the team as it moved to Tennessee to become the Tennessee Titans and appeared in Super Bowl XXXIV as a substitute.

The golden footballs presented feature the honoree's name, the high school's name and location, as well as the Super Bowl(s) the honoree appeared in. It has become an annual tradition that not only celebrates NFL athletes who reach the pinnacle of the league, but also their achievements away from the league by recognizing their high school, as well as their coaches.

All honored schools under the program receive an NFL Character Education Curriculum and are eligible to apply for grants up to $5,000 to help support and grow their high school football programs, according to the program's website.